Monday Double: Used Cassettes - Clare Maguire

Used Cassettes - Ducati.

Background promo - Sunburnt, half-dazed and several piers down from the fluoride tide of the Korean Wave, Used Cassettes are a stomp-and-stagger rock band based in Seoul. Rock n Rills due May 6th on Magic Strawberry Sound.

Used Cassettes' tunes are served straight up like the Stones', though maybe a bit sandier, and waterlogged by an unlikely drift of far-flung currents. The group may have met not far from Gangnam, but they hail from South Africa, Canada, and Detroit.

Over the past couple years they've broken Korea's rock Top 40, become the first gang of foreigners to ever sign with a top-tier local label, torn it up on the Asian festival circuit, and - inevitably? - starred in a comic book series read by millions. They wanted to make sure they sun-baked their sound nice and crisp before taking it back home. Listening back on their new LP Rock n Rills, they feel pretty good about that.

'Ducati' is a marvellous piece of rock music, with all the writing sensibilities of a Stones record and the loose swagger and attitude of The Black Crowes. However it's more than that. The band have a very fresh, natural sound, that in reality is cleverly refined, so that all instruments and vocals are very clear in the mix. As introductions to a band go, this one ticks all the boxes.


Clare Maguire - Elizabeth Taylor.

Background promo - Clare Maguire listens to all sorts of artists these days; they have only one thing in common. "They are true to themselves," she says. This, more than any genre or sound or era, is all that matters to the 27-year-old singer-songwriter right now. "It's a certain attitude that I'm really drawn to," she explains, "and it really doesn't matter what music it is, and it doesn't matter who the person is. That's the inspiration for me."

This much is clear in Maguire's new music. After a moment away from the spotlight, the Brummie chanteuse is back in full force - still with that amazing, swooping, haunting voice, but with more raw, fragile vulnerability. Clare wrote the majority of this album at home on her piano, with her sausage dogs, on a diet of pizza and cups of tea, listening to everything from Rihanna to Johnny Cash, "If it sounds a bit rough around the edges, it's fine," she reasons, "because that's who I am."

She posted a series of songs online herself over the past year to high praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Fader and Rookie. These beautifully fragile tracks also caught the attention of Christopher Bailey, head designer at Burberry, who invited Clare to perform at multiple runway shows across the world, a creative relationship which continues to flourish.

Now Clare is poised and ready to release her brand new album, Stranger Things Have Happened, with brand new single, "Elizabeth Taylor", the first song to be heard from the album.

A true artist and musician, Clare wrote the entire album herself and was heavily involved with the studio recording process, drafting in modern British greats like pianist Sam Beste (best known for his work with Amy Winehouse) and producer Blue May (Kindness, Robyn, Kano and more). Stranger Things Have Happened will be released on EMI Records on May 27th.

'Elizabeth Taylor' is a sultry, beautiful song. Clare sings as if each word comes from the heart and the music almost struggles to keep up with her commitment to the song, that said - both vocals and musical soundtrack are quite stunning and really compliment each other.