Sunday, 23 October 2016

Alternative Take: I Wish I Was a Fish - Hundreds - Of Gentlemen & Cowards - Ex Reyes - Daphne Willis

I Wish I Was a Fish - Follow.

Background promo - Four intense and crazy days in San Fransisco - that was all it took for Stockholm based artist I Wish I Was A Fish, or songwriter/multiinstrumentalist Frida Teresia Svensson, to finish what is going to be released as her debut EP.

The solo project, which started out from an everlasting curiousity towards learning new instruments and finding out what they can do with the songs, finally transformed into shape when Frida met producer Elliott Peltzman during a trip to San Fransisco. Pretty soon after their first creative meeting Frida found herself working in Elliot's studio with a vision to create something where an acoustic live vibe meets an electronic landscape.

The material to be heard on the EP; and that is exemplified by new single "Follow", was written while Frida spent an autumn in Berlin. Some of the songs stems from reflections on society, while others are more personal recollections, a way to work through things that happens in life, that have slowly turned to be more political. A playfulness, a lot of fire and one or two water metaphors are what embodies I Wish I Was A Fish.

"Follow" is the first single out from I Wish I Was A Fish's debut EP. The single is out now on all digital platforms, with the EP to follow on December 2nd. Facebook here.

Oh I do like 'Follow'. Frida Teresia Svensson has both passion and commitment in her vocals whilst Elliott Peltzman on Synths & drums and Vince Dewald on Bass, deliver a feisty building soundtrack. The EP is definitely on the "must listen list" as of now.


Hundreds - Spotless.

Background - Lonely, but powerful, "Spotless" is the second official single from their upcoming album. Based in Hamburg, Germany,  Hundreds have a knack for creating cinematic, unusual soundscapes, and 'Spotless' adds another element to their unique sound with a slightly cheerful, pop-take on their usual goosebump-inducing sound, which accompanies the listener into the night.

Siblings Eva and Philipp Milner catapulted to internet success after releasing self-titled debut album, Hundreds, in 2010. Despite having no budget or radio airplay, the pair became one of the greatest German indie pop stories in recent times.

Stemming from this success, Hundreds have played shows all over Europe, as well as international festivals like SXSW (US), Iceland Airwaves and The Great Escape (UK). Their live sets incorporate the wonderful cinematic influences which stem from Philipp's classical music studies, while also paying homage to the vibrant German techno scene.

With a sound reminiscent of Massive Attack, Dido or Radiohead, no comparison can really do them justice. Eva's haunting vocal soars over beautifully downtempo piano chords, creating a wonderfully Gothic ambiance. Philipp's piano chords and melodies against the backdrop of electronic soundscapes and rythmics immerse listeners in a deep and intense musical journey. Wilderness is out via Embassy of Music 04/11/2016. Hundreds will also be touring their new album in November - more info here

The music video for 'Spotless' works so well, for what is a really fine song. As the promo above suggests, Hundreds have developed what is clearly their own identifying sound, where comparisons come and go, whilst the music remains distinct and creative.


Of Gentlemen & Cowards - Make It On Your Own.

Background from the band - Our band Of Gentlemen & Cowards is set to release our debut album, Modern Jukebox, on January 27, 2017 via Maisonneuve Music. Today we get to tease you with our new video.

'Make It On Your Own' started as a song about coming home after being away, and seeing your city and your life from the outside as you hadn't seen before. We wrote it as a reminder to ourselves of all the things we love but also the things we wish to change. During the two years we spent writing and recording this record the song took on a larger meaning for us and became a mantra for our band. You are never gonna get anywhere if you're waiting for a big break, and to truly be happy you'll need to reevaluate what success means to you. The music video follows four stories where the characters set out to accomplish their goals big and small, and though the outcome may not always be life changing, the act of pursuing the goal is celebrated as accomplishment in itself.

We formed in 2010. As a band we've seen ups and downs, including an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman and an ill-fated cruise ship gig that both broke our collective heart and yet transformed our sound into a more soulful one. Through it all, as Of Gentlemen & Cowards we've persevered our optimistic outlook. Website here.

'Make It On Your Own' may be something of a mantra for the band, it's also a good indie rock song. With an upbeat vibe at the core of this song, the band have clearly honed their craft, allowing the positives to shine through.


Ex Reyes - Keeping U In Line.

Background - Ex Reyes is the psych-soul sound of music-dude Mikey Freedom Hart. It is a project that is based around musical community and the spark of collaboration; the inevitable result of many hours spent with talented friends in unlikely places. 

Ex Reyes is the subtle sophistication of the Beach Boys, the weirdness of psychedelic-era Temptations, the sonic experimentation of Phil Spektor and Delia Derbyshire, the free freneticism of dancehall, and the superb oddity of synthesizer-soaked dollar records, distilled into songs about real things.

Do Something EP, Ex Reyes' debut EP, was recorded over the past 5 years in hotel rooms, sheds, and proper studios all over the world--from Africa to New Orleans, Japan to Scandinavia--alongside Hart's travels as a top-tier session musician, sideman, and collaborator to such artists as Bleachers (Jack Antonoff), Santigold, The Cranberries, Sia, Mike D, Albert Hammond Jr., Adam Green, Sinkane, Dam Funk, and more. Website here.

'Keeping U In Line' was described to me as being structured like an old Motown song albeit with a more lo-fi feel. I'm guessing the person who wrote that is learning what buttons to push, to gain my interest! The good thing is, it's a really good description for what is a beautiful song. Mixing the old and new together with considerable sophistication, it gives a good feel of the quality on the new EP.


Daphne Willis - Come Together (EP).

Background - Collaborating across multiple genres ranging from Soul-Rock and Pop to Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music, classifying Daphne Willis in musical terms is no easy task. With infectious melodies delivered with lyrical precision and honesty, the songs and performances of Daphne Willis are sincere, compelling and relevant.

Raised in Chicago and relocated now to Nashville, Willis cites influences as varied as Elvis Costello and Michael Jackson, but her musical output cleverly incorporates such inspirations into a style that is refreshing and contemporary in a way that suits her songs best. Daphne is currently a Pop writer at Sony/ATV and continues to release music and tour as an Indie Artist.

Daphne released her first independent EP Matter of Time in September 2007; in a twist of fate, Vanguard Records head Kevin Welk heard a track on an American Airlines flight. This led to a record deal in 2008 and the release of her second EP, Exhibit A. To record her first full-length album, Daphne headed to the hills of Tennessee. She released What to Say in 2010, which was co-produced by Tim Lauer and Grammy winner Gary Paczosa. Album number two, Because I Can, came out in 2011 and reached the number two spot on iTunes’ Top 40 Singer/Songwriter Chart.

2014’s Live to Try features co-writes with Hunter Davis, Chris Faulk, Angela Lauer, John Oates (of Hall & Oates), Keri Barnes and Tim Lauer, while 2015’s Get It EP kicks off with the track “Done With Bein’ Done,” which Daphne co-wrote with Grammy winner Meghan Trainor.

Thus far, 2016 has been a banner year for Willis. She has released two singles (“Spider in the Roses,” a collaboration with frequent tour mate Sonia Leigh, and “The Struggle is Real,” which advocates mental health awareness) and turned in main stage performances at both LA Pride and Nashville Pride. Website here.

Come Together, is an acoustic EP that re-imagines five classic tracks by The Beatles. As soon as the first song (Eleanor Rigby) began to play, my attention was grabbed. Daphne Willis most certainly re-imagines these songs, with creativity and respect. Whilst we live in a world of remixes these days, I personally think it's a lot tougher to take five classic songs and give them an original take. The acoustic approach allows the original melodies to be heard, Daphne's vocals and arrangements give the songs a really special twist. Very impressive and enjoyable!


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Five Of The Finest: Phobophobes - Oh Malô - The Peep Tempel - Kristina Cottone - Flower Girl

Phobophobes - Human Baby.

Background promo - Brixton sleaze merchants Phobophobes’ new single ‘Human Baby’ due for release on November 11th on Ra-Ra Rok Records is already getting great love as Steve Lamacq’s single of the week on BBC 6 Music and it’s easy to see why with its wicked off-kilter Neil Hannon meets garage rock sound.

The fast rising band will be heading out on tour supporting Telegram between October 27 - November 3 where they will continue to offer their growing reputation and dedicated fans the sort of sleazy glam rhythms the band are becoming synonymous with, meshed with a pantheon of sounds from an eerie yet somewhat cheery afterlife.

The stunning B-side of the single is entitled ‘Free The Naked Rambler’ which has also gained 6 music airplay and is also the last track guitarist George Russell ever recorded with the band before his sudden and tragic death earlier this year. Both tracks will feature on their debut album released next year. Facebook here.

Phobophobes supporting Telegram UK Tour
OCT 27th Games Room, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
OCT 28th Night & Day, Manchester
OCT 29th Think Tank, Newcastle
OCT 31st Hug & Pint, Glasgow
NOV 01st Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
NOV 02nd The Lousiana, Bristol
NOV 03rd Boston Music Rooms, London. 

If 'Human Baby' is how a band of Brixton sleaze merchants sound, then I'm all for Brixton sleaze merchant bands! Everything works on this hook laden song, with the immediate result of wanting to hear a whole lot more.


Oh Malô - Miss You.

Background - Boston based four-piece Oh Malô (oh muh-low) are set to release video for enchanting single 'Miss You' taken from the band's stunning debut album 'As We Were' ahead of their upcoming east coast tour.

The quartet presents a shape-shifting sound through their dynamic arrangements as delicate vocals intertwine with ambient guitars and powerful, aggressive drums. They combine influences from rhythmically innovative indie outfits such as Bombay Bicycle Club and Local Natives, vocalists Patrick Watson and the late Jeff Buckley, and the chilling ambiance of Radiohead and Sigur Rós to create an unpredictable blend of timbres.

Singer/guitarist Brandon Hafetz explains the single as follows: "Miss You" was written during a very reflective period for me, the calm after the storm if you will. The song has a way of fooling your years into thinking you're listening to a happy and uplifting song though if you dig deeper past the musical front it still circles back to the themes of yearning and nostalgia that are present on our debut album 'As We Were'.

Over the past year, Oh Malô was nominated for “New Artist of the Year” at the 2015 Boston Music Awards, recorded live sessions for KEXP and Sofar Sounds New York, made showcase appearances at both CMJ and CMW and supported  several nationally touring acts such as From Indian Lakes, The Lighthouse and the Whaler and Halfnoise. Website here.

10/22 Washington, D.C.  @ Velvet Lounge
10/23 Lynchburg, VA @ Private Show
10/27 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Roboto
10/29 Montreal, QC @ L'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle
11/3 Boston, MA @ O'Briens
11/4 Providence, RI @ AS220

'Miss You' is a beautiful and very melodic, totally catchy song. The band perform with ease, the vocals are pristine, with plenty of heart and soul, put all that together and we arrive with one extremely fine song.


The Peep Tempel - Totality.

Background - The Peep Tempel is a rock band from Melbourne, Australia. The band’s line-up includes Blake Scott (vocals, guitar), Steven Carter (drums) and Stewart Rayner (bass guitar). After releasing two 7-inch singles The Peep Tempel released their debut album The Peep Tempel in February 2012, an EP Modern Professional in June 2013 and their second album Tales in October 2014 through Melbourne label Wing Sing.

The Peep Tempel formed as a two-piece in late 2008 by songwriter and guitarist Blake Scott and drummer Steven Carter, who were neighbours at the time. The Peep Tempel recorded their self-titled debut studio album in 2011 as a three-piece with engineers Clinton Kraus and Anna Laverty at Sing Sing South recording studio in Melbourne. Longtime collaborator and engineer Matt Duffy played bass during the recording session. In late 2011 Stewart Rayner joined the band to play bass guitar and the band toured both in Australia and Europe as a three-piece during 2012. Their 2012 debut album received critical praise and was nominated in the category of Best Independent Hard Rock or Punk Album at the 2012 AIR Independent Music Awards.

The Peep Tempel have earned a reputation as one of Australia’s most powerful and respected live acts, their performances has been described as both energetic and scabrous in equal doses. Testament to the band’s live reputation, was their nomination for Best Band and Best Live Band at the 2015 The Age Music Victoria Awards. During the previous Australian summer The Peep Tempel wrote their third album in their West Melbourne studio and again collaborated with engineer Anna Laverty (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Courtney Barnett), to record and mix the album at Sing Sing Studios. Facebook here.

The second of ten songs on 'Joy' the featured track 'Totality' is powerful and honest in it's own right, and typifies the sheer quality found across this album. Feisty throughout and mixing punk attitude with intriguing lyrics, set against a potent rock background, this is real rock'n'roll.


Kristina Cottone - Ukulele Love Song.

Background - Kristina Cottone is an indie-soul artist based in Chicago.  Known as the front woman and founding member for soul/rock band, Honey & the 45s, Kristina has performed throughout Chicago and the Midwest.  She continues her role with Honey & the 45s, and brings you her solo project, Kristina Cottone Music.

Surrounded by a family of performers, Kristina's interest in the arts and music began at young age. Her grandfather was a jazz singer and her aunt was an actress. Also pursuing the stage, Kristina holds a BFA in acting, and performed as company member with Chicago's Organic Theatre Company for 5 years before dedicating all of her time to music.

Honey & the 45s was awarded Best Blues/Jazz Band at the 2014 Chicago Independent Music Awards and has toured the Midwest and opened for such notable acts as Cold War Kids, Big Data, Smash Mouth, Andy Grammer, The Original Wailers and Eric Hutchinson. Kristina continues to play her favourite venues around Chicago and tour regionally with both Honey and KC Music. Website here.

Whilst three chord ukulele strummers in the audience at pop festivals should be rounded up and evicted (just my personal opinion) 'Ukulele Love Song' is an absolute delight and goes way beyond just the one instrument. Kristina's vocals are gorgeous, the melody equally and the video is also charming and fun.


Flower Girl - Wading Online.

Background - Flower Girl have announced their upcoming album and shares the first track "Wading Online".  Their album 'Tuck In Your Tie-Dye' is due November 11 on BUFU Records. Like their namesake implies, Flower Girl is a celebration of youthful exuberance, tossing up sing-a-long anthems, and heady licks to decorate your path. Led by perennially grinning frontman Nick Morris, this NYC-based five-piece of hard-working chillers revels in an optimist high of contagious energy. With a sound that blends storytelling lyrics, catchy power pop hooks, understated alt-rock noodling, and a steady rhythm section grounded in a country backwoods feel, Flower Girl occupy a musical space all their own. Having accrued a hometown reputation for spreading smiles with raucous and revelatory live performances — featuring somersaults, whip cracks and lots of crowd dancing — these grown-up kids sure know how to start a party.

Buoyant and cheerful throughout, this colourful collection of sweet-hearted songs could warm the coals of a modern day scrooge with their impassioned appeals to have some just have some fun already. Akin to the vibes of Jonathan Richman and the be yourself spirit of 90’s Nickelodeon, Songs like "Let’s Build a Fort" drive that message home with cheeky refrains to escape the pretencion and pessimism of the city, pairing guitar licks, group calls and some well-placed cowbell. Likewise, the peppy pop of "Hi5’s" rejoices in the simple pleasure of slapping some skin and spreading the love.

You can almost hear the smile in Morris’ conversational croon. However, it's not all sunshine in Flower Girl’s world, as softer tracks like "Dorthy Says" and "2 Late 2 Be a Cowboy" feature a tinge of twangy country smoothness that betrays a quiet melancholy of missed opportunity, loneliness, and the dislocation of being a little guy in the big city. With most songs coming in under the 3 minute mark, these songs are compact and to the point. No breakout solos or meandering interludes distract from their overall message, just feel good vibes you won’t mind ricocheting around your skull like so many jumping jellybeans. So serve yourself a stack a flap jacks, pour on that sweet syrup and get ready to flip for Flower Girl. Facebook here.

'Wading Online' has feel good vibes through and through. The band sound loose and easy, which is just right for the vocals, and a song structure like this. Catchy, it's another really good tease, for a soon to be released album.


Friday, 21 October 2016

Weekend Wonders: Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Mat Hunsley - Cassie and Maggie MacDonald - The Proper Ornaments - Deep Sea Diver - The Lovely Days

Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Satellite.

Background promo - Brooklyn based Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis today release Let It Be You, via Reveal Records/BFD*/RED Distribution. The band will celebrate the album's release at Good Room in Greenpoint on 10/26. Also on the bill is another of Ben's projects, Cuddle Magic.

Initially announced under the moniker ‘2001’ the duo released a pair of partner videos directed by Benjamin Gregory featuring Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia); one for the song “Overloaded” with Ben on lead vocals and “Broke Me In Two” featuring Joan on lead.

A deeply soulful artist, Joan As Police Woman (Joan Wasser) has famously worked with Antony (Anohni), Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and David Sylvian. Benjamin is a talented multi-instrumentalist who currently performs with his band Cuddle Magic, Okkervil River, and Bridget Kearney (Lake Street Dive). Joan and Ben met each other after separate trips to Africa; Ethiopia for Joan as part of Damon Albarn’s Africa Express,  and West Africa for Lazar to study traditional music. They initially bonded over Central African Republic Pygmy musical patterns and wrote this album together loosely inspired by this music. The band recently performed at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival.

The band will be touring Europe in November and December. Performing with a full band, Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis will showcase songs from the new album and re-imagine recordings from the four previous Joan As Police Woman albums (Real Life, To Survive, The Deep Field, The Classic)
. More here.

This is our second track feature (following on from 'Magic Lamp' three weeks ago), from todays album release, this time we have the song 'Satellite'. It's another highly original and unique piece, where the duo again focus on creating and performing their eclectic music, it's different however quite accessible.


Mat Hunsley - Fires.

Background - ‘Fires’ is the lead single from Mat Hunsley’s debut EP, which is available to pre-order from iTunes here.

Produced by Mick Ross (Ajimal, Tessera Skies, The Lake Poets) and mastered by Tom Woodward (The Cribs, Fidlar, Frankie & The Heartstrings), the ‘To Being Free’ EP is released on 18th November. It represents another personal step forward for Mat, who has had to overcome numerous frustrations – not least his own self-doubt – just to get to this stage.

Those experiences have fed into Hunsley’s unique brand of storytelling, which is laid bare on ‘Fires’, his most personal song yet. Nods to contemporaries including Bon Iver, Nathaniel Rateliff and James Vincent Mcmorrow are evident in the track and provide the perfect backdrop to his poignant lyricism and ethereal vocals.

Just last month the Newcastle-based artist premiered his debut song ‘Dropping’, which has led to a who’s who of music industry taste makers talking about Mat.

‘Fires’ is sure to propel him to even greater heights, culminating in the release of his debut EP, a body of work that perfectly represents what this outstanding young talent is all about. A passionate and intelligent documentation of the world as it revolves around him, it’s the first chapter in a colourful songbook that Mat appears to be compiling as he attempts to move past previous insecurities and reconnect with the human being inside worn and weathered 21st century skin.

'Fires' demonstrates just what a distinct and melodic voice Mat Hunsley has. Add to that a thoughtful and well structured song, and for me, your onto a winner.


Cassie and Maggie MacDonald - F# Minor Set.

Background - Inventive Young Canadian Duo Cassie and Maggie MacDonald Bend the Beloved Folk Symbol in New Directions on The Willow Collection

Back in the day, people would lay willow wands beneath their pillow when they struggled to cope with strong feelings. “They would dream through it in the night and be better in the morning,” explains Maggie MacDonald. “That’s why it’s associated with grief.”

The willow’s powerfully emotional, innately flexible role as folk symbol inspired Nova Scotia-born duo Cassie and Maggie MacDonald’s latest, most exploratory album yet, The Willow Collection (release: November 4, 2016). The young player’s piano, guitar, fiddle, and flying footwork reveal the many facets of tying together songs that feature the tree. The MacDonalds have branched out from their deep Celtic roots into new, related regions, ranging from Appalachian and Ozark ballads to country classics.

We really wanted to explore the different genres that came from the same origins,” Cassie notes. “The Scottish people in Appalachia, for example. We wanted to trace those roots and really get a feel for how they took on a life of their own here in North America.” Website here.

The Willow Collection Tour:

11/7 Calais, ME: Calais Celtic Concert Series, Wash. Co. Community College
11/9: Mexico, ME: Green Church ;
11/10: Farmington, ME: North Church Concerts
11/11: Harvard, MA: Harvard Public Library
11/13: Harrisburg, PA: Susquehana Folk Song Society, Appalachian Brewery Company
11/17: New York, NY: Silvana
11/18: Oxford, NY: Six on the Square
11/19: Oswego, NY: Oswego Music Hall, McCrobie Building
11/20: Woods Hole, MA: Woods Hole Folk Society, Woods Hole Community Hall
11/22: Portland, ME: One Longfellow Square  

Unfortunately at present there is nothing to share from 'The Willow Collection', however as it's such a fine album, I just wanted to give it a mention along with the duo's forthcoming tour dates. Hopefully 'F# Minor Set' will raise some interest, if this please your ears then check out the soon to be released album.


The Proper Ornaments - Memories.

Background - The Proper Ornaments – the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy) – announce the release of their second album. Foxhole will be released through Slumberland Records (US) and Tough Love Records (EU) on January 20, 2017.

James and Max started out writing Foxhole, the follow up to the bands 2014 released debut album ‘Wooden Head’, in January 2015. On ‘Foxhole’ they’ve sliced away a whole stratum of their sound, removing some distortion and lowering the frequency of plectrum strokes to allow more nuanced, piano-led ideas to emerge. The title isn’t a reference to Television’s jaunty proto-punk record but seems to be more of a dark, protective interior, a head space sketched out on ‘Jeremy’s Song’. While their particularly recognisable production style remains, three things stand out as likely reasons for the shift in mood. By the time they got around to recording again in James’ bedroom in Finsbury Park that Summer, the instability around the recording of ‘Wooden Head’ (and the five years before) had slid into a deep and seething acrimony. Second, they both bought pianos. Third, when the band, with Daniel Nellis and Bobby Syme joining on bass and drums went to record at Tin Room in Hackney in June, the pinch wheel on the 8 track machine was broken and somehow no one noticed. All but one recording, ‘The Frozen Stare,’ was hopelessly warped, so they went and did it all again from scratch back at James’.

Proper Ornaments hold the attraction of seeming to not try very hard at all and achieve something outstanding nonetheless. Quite apart from our attachment to laziness and chance which make this seductive, textures of dappled drums, softened-out guitars and vocal harmonies that slide along as effortlessly as this, any evidence of conscious construction spirited away, are in themselves totally ecstatic to listen to. Facebook here.

'Memories' is a gentler paced song, where the vocals and understated music complement each other superbly. Melodic and natural, the laid back vibes are just so quick to calm and please me.


Deep Sea Diver - Wide Awake.

Background - Seattle-based indie-pop band Deep Sea Diver have shared "Wide Awake," the second music video from their recent sophomore album Secrets. The video is a beautifully shot live performance of the song, spotlighting the band's high energy live shows - they have a couple tour dates coming up (see below).

"Wide awake, and I'm chasing after you" - exclaims a breathless Jessica Dobson, singer and multi-instrumentalist of Seattle's Deep Sea Diver. The lyric is one that best encapsulates the front woman's bravado and fearlessness which dominates Deep Sea Diver's forthcoming sophomore LP, Secrets --Out February 19th on their own High Beam records. In their desire to explore dualities, Deep Sea Diver urgently and deliberately move you from rock experimentation to dreamy soundscapes, Kraut-esque drum and bass grooves to angular danci-ness, and full fledged orchestration to bare bones simplicity. Dobson has the voice and authority to tie it all together, and turn it into a cohesive unit that soars yet remains beautifully delicate and intimate. Live, the band has received acclaim for their festival-ready power and presence, Jessica's larger than life guitar hooks, and their cascading layers that build upon each other until they reach their explosive peak.

In late 2013, Dobson put in her notice to former Shins boss, James Mercer, in order to give full attention to her own musical vision. Mercer agreed, saying "I'll miss you, but I give you my full support. You've gotta pursue Deep Sea Diver." While much was gleaned from the experiences in her many years spent playing with top tier musical outfits (Beck, the Shins, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs,) something was brewing that demanded a sort of dedication and alertness that couldn't be fully engaged while moonlighting as a side-woman for those greats. Facebook here.

10.29.16 - Disjecta Portland, OR
11.07.16 - Paramount Seattle, WA w/ The Head and The Heart

'Wide Awake' is a hypnotic rocker, where the vocals of Jessica Dobson gradually take the song to a more dreamy and smoother place. As an intro to the recent album, it's gotta hook a few more ears.


The Lovely Days - Lordness.

Background -  Hailing from Byron Bay, via Melbourne Australia comes four piece Australian indie band The Lovely Days who are set to release their self-titled debut EP on October 7th. The Lovely Days features brothers Tennyson Nobel, 23 [keys, vocals] Holden Nobel, 25 [bass, vocals] along with Stephen Dickie, 22 [guitar, b/vs] and Jackson McIvor, 21 [drums].

Scratch beneath the surface of The Lovely Days song-craft and you’ll discover trace elements from four young lads from Liverpool some 50 years ago, through to the classic songwriting that defined the prolific songs of the 70's and 80's. Featuring feel-good harmonies delivered by the Nobel brothers who seamlessly share the lead vocal across different tracks, The Lovely Days are indeed a rare breath of fresh air in today’s music scene with the EP being self-penned and self-produced.

The Lovely Days began recording their debut EP in different locations; starting in a big fancy studio, then mid stream finishing it off in a beach house and a mate’s bedroom at his grandmothers house. Lead singer Tennyson explains; “Studios are cool, but for us we really dig the DIY dynamic of recording in a lush space where you can cook together and go to the beach.”

Two brothers and a high school friend travelled from Byron Bay to Melbourne to kickstart their careers where they met their drummer to form a brotherly partnership that is The Lovely Days. If you’re vitamin D deficient and usually take supplements in the morning with your juice, stop…from now on just listen to The Lovely Days instead. Website here.

Bright and breezy indie rockers The Lovely Days know how to lift the mood as 'Lordness' ably demonstrates. Coming in at just over two minutes, it's like an energised shot in the arm, and an excellent taster for the fine new EP.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Sweden Calling: Mother Mink - Louise Lemon

Mother Mink - Doobie Doobie.

Background promo - Mother Mink is a music duo based in Stockholm created the autumn of 2016. The band plays experimental indie pop with both electronic and acoustic elements. A big part of the music has been created by distorted saxophones, clarinets and dirty beats.

Mother Mink’s music can be described as a cross between punk, pop and indie. The music is theatrical, humoristic and has many interesting melodies. The musical references of the band comes from everything from jazz to punk. Their aesthetics is described by themselves as a ”kitchy, dirty and glamorous plastic world”.

On the stage Mother Mink wants to convey musical chaos where a qualitative freak show is their artistic goal. To achieve this Mother Mink often invites other crazy musicians to join them. They themselves describe their music as an explosion of art.

The original source of inspiration of the band comes from the plastic in all the seas of the world and several songs treat themes around the artificial and exaggerated world we live in. Their first single ”Monkeys” is about the mass death of bees caused by mankind.

Their second single ”Doobie Doobie” is a catchy song with references to Quentin Tarantino’s films. The song contains everything from horn arrangements, opera, Fanny’s singing and cut up electric guitars that sound like a machine gun. Website here

For me 'Doobie Doobie' rips apart the awful, plastic Euro pop fodder, with a touch of madness, plenty of humour, and an annoyingly catchy song. The video is the icing on the cake.


Louise Lemon - Thirst.

Background - Hailing from Sweden, the place that has graced us with some of the best and most interesting contemporary musicians comes female artist Louise Lemón. Following live performances, critics raved about Louise- including one of the biggest Swedish national newspapers Dagens Nyheter, who called her the answer to future music.

Louise Lemón joins the ultra-growing power of females with attitude; sounding sonically similar to PJ Harvey, whilst also hints of The Dead Weather appear. Interestingly, Louise actually recorded her upcoming EP, Purge, in a cabin deep in the woods of Dalarna, and the presence of the eerie place is undeniably audible in her latest single, Thirst. The track, which was produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Thurston Moore), gets sent into darker territory, giving it that hypnotic edge when a scuzzy blend of guitars take over, reminding us of Dolores Haze. Whilst distorted, reverbed vocals have left comparisons to artists like Chelsea Wolfe. Thirst was released on the 14th October 2016 through Icons Creating Evil Art. Website here.

There is a brooding feel running right through 'Thirst'. The lofi vibes erupt into chorus, the distant edgy guitar comes and goes and the vocals drift through the sonic soundscape. Superb!


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Genre Wander: Astari Nite - Sian Cross - The Blow - Tribe Royal - Eliza Mary Doyle

Astari Nite - Until the End of the Moon.

Background promo - Astari Nite is proud to bring to the world the music video to the title track of their second, and latest album, Until the End of the Moon. This is the 3rd music video for the album, following the music video for “Always Like Yesterday” and the live shot production for “Joyful Wish” which was shot at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale while the band opened for She Wants Revenge.

Formed in 2008, the group consists of Mychael Ghost (lead vocals), Illia Tulloch (Drums), M. Sallons (Bass), Michael Setton (Guitar), and Howard Melnick (Guitar). Signed to (Danse Macabre Records). Astari Nite has headlined numerous shows, as well as opened up for many national acts such as Peter Murphy, The Psychedelic Furs, ColdCave, Stars, Assemblage 23, Seabound, Modern English, Andy Rourke of The Smiths, Apoptygma Berzerk and De/Vision among many others.

Since forming they have put out five releases; their self-titled Astari Nite (2010), Requiem Mass (2011)Stereo Waltz LP (2014) featuring the singles "Pyramids" and "I.O. 1987", Anonymous (2015) featuring the single "The Boy Who Tried" and Until the end of the Moon LP (2016)

2016 Highlights - The single "Always Like Yesterday" was included in Spotify's Fresh Finds playlist (January). Released a music video for the single "Always Like Yesterday." Released second LP titled Until the end of the Moon (May). Toured the U.S East Coast in support of the album (May). Opened for She Wants Revenge (June). Website here.

Second time feature for Astari Nite (it was back in April we first covered them) and 'Until the End of the Moon' is another fine song. Back then I described the music as "high quality post punk or new wave music", if anything the new song is a little more layered and refined, it's still terrific!


Sian Cross - On And On.

Background - Sian Cross stunned listeners with her recent single Tell Anybody. Praised by critics and fans alike, it was made Track Of The Day on Clash, whilst reviewers praised her honest songwriting and exquisite vocals.

During On and On, her character fights for survival on the strip club stage, outwardly dominant but inwardly vulnerable. Her hypnotic vocals switch effortlessly from whisper to yell, against a sonically adventurous backdrop of startling synths and stuttering rhythms. It’s like Banks’ vocals married with FKA Twigs productions. Every listen reveals new layers. Sian will be heading out on tour in November with some talented artists, including a support slot for American artist Mishka Shubaly. Facebook here.

November Tour Dates:
3rd - Servant Jazz Quarters - London (supporting James Beau Barclay)
11th - Basingstoke Anvil - Basingstoke (supporting Sons Of Pitches)
12th - Falmouth Pavilion - Falmouth (supporting Sons Of Pitches)
14th - St Albans Arena - St Albans (supporting Sons Of Pitches)
21st - Cadogan Hall - London (supporting Sons Of Pitches)
23rd - The Rowbridge - Guilford (supporting Miska Shubaly)
25th - Gullivers - Manchester  (supporting Mishka Shubaly)
26th - Slaughtered Lamb - London (supporting Mishka Shubaly)
27th - Robin 2 - Wolverhampton (supporting China Crisis).

It was back at the end of July that Beehive Candy featured Sian Cross, describing her music as "emotional and atmospheric" on that occasion. 'On And On' has all of that, as the song builds (and builds) both with intensity and feeling. I definitely want to hear more!


The Blow - Think About Me.

Background - The Blow’s Melissa Dyne and Khaela Maricich have spent the past handful of years deep in the studio, working out their own new way of producing electro acoustic pop. “Think About Me” is the fruit of these labors. The song consists of five tracks, using modular and analog synthesizers plus vocals to create layers of frequency. Through the recording process, the duo have developed their own instruments and processing systems for creating sounds, ending up with a mothership of gear patched together in a a web of cables. No longer employing a laptop in live shows, their songs are now performed as live production.

Dyne and Maricich started their odyssey of recording and producing their own music in the late aughts. They considered working with an outside producer but it soon became evident that the sound they were after was something they could only find together. In 2013 they emerged briefly from their recording odyssey for the release of their self-titled album, The Blow. The album was named “favorite album of the year” by NPR’s Bob Boilen and two of its songs were honored on the New York Times’ “Top Songs of 2013.”  With these encouragements they dove immediately back into the studio to continue pursuing elusive sounds.

Throughout the years of recording isolation Melissa and Khaela fantasized about building a community of other producers to draw inspiration from; they brought these fantasies to life in

'Think About Me' is a really good example of why there is still plenty of room for experimentation and daring to be different with music. This is a beautifully crafted song that has no hang ups on genres or format, and yet everything holds together, with the vocals giving some anchorage, whilst the sounds dance around.


Tribe Royal - Into Golden Waves.

Background - Tribe Royal is a Canadian folk-rock band based in the nation’s capital city of Ottawa. The band was born from the partnership of Terry O’Brien and Chris Kerwin, two aspiring songwriters, and their shared interest in the musical giants of the 20th century. When their bandmates Bram Al-Najjar and Mike Giamberardino joined -- talented and inspiring musicians in their own right -- the resulting foursome created a dynamic relationship that has crafted the band’s sound into the genres it now encompasses.

Tribe Royal’s sound can be described as an alchemic blend of folk music, 60’s British Rock and 90's Alternative Rock. At the core of the Tribe are three unique singing voices that can be layered for 3-part harmony, or woven to create imaginative counterpoints. Their sound and songs have a nostalgic feeling to them, introspective yet vibrant; grounded in the honest experiences and youthful memories.

Since the band’s formation in January 2014, Tribe Royal has earned a reputation as a professional, hardworking and ambitious group. They have released one LP, “Samadhi”, with a second ‘Colours of the Sun’ to be released later in 2016. In just over two years as a group, they have played more than 150 shows in 20 different cities and are currently booking dates throughout the remainder of 2016. Their love for music has connected them with thousands of people of all ages, through small private benefit performances, to large-scale rock venues in some of Canada’s largest cities. With the release of ‘Colours of The Sun’ , 2016 is set to be a pivotal year for the emerging rock group. Website here.

I have to say the new 'Colours Of The Sun' album is consistently refined and enjoyable across all thirteen tracks. 'Into Golden Waves' gives an idea of what is in store for the listener, which I would describe as a mix of folk rock, alt rock and even a hint of Americana. It's all delivered with great vocals and a band who can play.


Eliza Mary Doyle - Nothin' To Lose.

Background - When Eliza Doyle’s car broke down in Nashville in 2015, she found herself happily stuck in Music City.  The venerable banjo player and singer/songwriter from Saskatchewan had stopped in to see a festival and ended up enjoying an extended stay, playing in bars and meeting all manner of talented musicians.  Having been on sabbatical to follow her muse anyway, it seemed like fate urging her to keep on the well-worn path to musical fulfilment.

Doyle has had a fifteen-year career in groups, as a solo artist, and as a professional session musician, playing banjo, singing, with not only the banjo, but with guitar, dobro and mandolin. She has released nine full-length albums, won numerous awards, and toured North America and Europe.  Doyle has been a regional finalist in CBC’s Searchlight Canada competition and past winner of Bell Media’s contest, The Next Big Thing.

On her new album It Ain’t What It Seems Doyle’s strong, but wonderfully frayed voice belts out captivating tunes and harmonies. She has the versatility to go from beautiful and melodious songs, to a full on boot stompin’ party scene. With her charismatic high energy performance, combined with outstanding claw hammer banjo, everything about Eliza Doyle’s music rings of an authenticity that takes you straight to the beating heart of folk and bluegrass music. Website here.

Eliza Doyle – It Ain’t What It Seems Tour:
20th- Edmonton, AB. Sewing Machine Factory
21st- Williams Lake, BC. Arts Centre, Arts on The Fly with C.R Avery
22nd- Prince George, BC The Legion, with C.R Avery
23rd- Vancouver, BC. Cafe Deux Soleil with guests Jayne Trimble
25th- Vancouver, BC. The Heatley with guests Jayne Trimble and Bob Sumner
26th- Duncan, BC. Duncan Showroom
27th- Victoria, BC. Wheelies
28th- Victoria, BC, Private House Concert
30th- Parksville, BC, The Realm
2nd- Nelson, BC, Bigby Place
3rd- Kaslo, BC, The Bluebelle Bistro
4th- Nelson, BC, The Royal
18th- Winnipeg, MB, The Times Change(d) with The Osmond-Davis Band
10th- The Root Emporium, Lloydminister, AB.
13th- The Ironwood, Calgary, AB.
16th- The Bassment, Saskatoon, SK.
17th- The Church Series, Brock, SK.

'Nothin' To Lose' is one of eleven varied tracks on the album 'It Ain't What It Seems'. Eliza has a distinctive voice that just lends itself to these types of songs, and beyond her fine vocals is some superb musicianship. Sometimes soft and slow, other times foot stomping and upbeat the melodies are always there, it's a really good collection of songs.