CIITY - TAWLS - Sophia Kennedy - Martin Simpson - Lød - Witching Waves


Background - Dallas based Indie-Pop band, CIITY, have been creating music since 2015. Their highly anticipated new single, ‘DNVR’, just might end up in your summer playlist.

The latest single from their EP Parallels, the song was recorded at The Lair studios and produced by Matt Noveskey: owner of Austin based Orb Recording Studios. Singer Carter Davis says, “‘DNVR’ is about not seizing the opportunity you were given and having to live with the regret of never having the fulfilment you wanted.” 

This song is an Electronic/Alternative mixture that creates a cloud of ambient swells, driving drums, and catchy synths to peak interest in the listener. A perfect match for fans of The 1975, St. Lucia, Foster the People, and Coldplay.

CIITY, has been making waves across the North Texas community since the release of their first single, ‘Late Night Confession’, in October 2016 and continue to lure new listeners with their creative lyrics and unique sound. North Texas radio stations like 91.7 KXT and 96.7 the local ticket frequently feature their newly released EP. Website here, Facebook here.

With a smoothly textured electronic feel and some fine and distinctive vocals 'DNVR' is a vibrant and pacy indie song.


TAWLS - 2+2.

Background - TAWLS is a treasure chest of original songs and stories which draw on an eclectic mix of folk, nursery rhymes and electronica.

Their debut single, ‘2+2’ bursts into our ears with the nostalgic sounds of a playground. It whisks you into day-dreams of simpler times, while tackling grown-up questions about relationship fights and compromise. “We’re supposed to be grown up, so how come it feels like we’re still just two kids trying to navigate the monkey bars?” say TAWLS on the meaning of ‘2 + 2’. It’s a melting pot of influences; textural production, an understated singing approach and unexpected rhythmic punctuations. One may hear elements of Sufjan Stevens, Regina Spektor and Hiatus Kaiyote.

Written and recorded in bedrooms across the country from Perth WA to Mittagong NSW, this song possesses a whimsical attraction and an infectious hook that will have you groovin’ in your boots.

This is the work of two musical nomads, from Perth, to Sydney to Berlin they live and breathe, creating and collaborating with music. TAWLS are euphorically uplifting.

‘The Adventures of Wonderchild & Little Seal’ (TAWLS) is a chronicle of the musical escapades of Anna-Kat (Wonderchild) and Ronan Chapple (Little Seal). Anna-Kat and Ronan both completed the Bmus (Jazz Performance) at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Facebook here.

Inventive and sprightly '2+2' mixes melodic vocals, alongside some intricate electronic sounds where the rhythm twists and turns creating a beautifully different song.


Sophia Kennedy - Build Me A House.

Background - Elegant, melancholic, sometimes menacing, with smoldering piano melodies, desolately whistling organs, and a jaunty jaw's harp loop; kissed by the golden Californian sun, or shrouded in gloomy, dreary fog: Sophia Kennedy is currently the most versatile composer in German pop music – not to mention the greatest singer. Her debut album "Sophia Kennedy" reveals her as a dramatic romanticist and distanced diseuse, as a deft lyricist and master of melody. In her eleven songs, she travels from doo-wop to dubstep, from classic crooning to breathless R'n'B, from Frank Sinatra to Beyoncé. Her talent for songwriting is deeply rooted in history, yet it seeks nothing but the present: both historically versed and timelessly beautiful at the same time.

Sophia Kennedy produced and recorded the album together with Mense Reents, best known for his work with Die Vögel and Die Goldenen Zitronen. Together they developed the spartan arrangements and electronic textures that determine the willfully dense sound of this album. Often, Kennedy's voice is the only instrument that pursues a harmonic development over the repetitive structures. Then she doubles and multiplies her voice and sings alongside herself in a choir. She shines with bold syncopation over a hobbling piano, as well as in the field of the melancholic lament that suggests a late Beach Boys ballad. This results in multi-dimensional, highly individual music, which easily escapes all the traps of inwardness: just as her lyrics unfold from seemingly simple wordplay to subjective confessionals without ever regressing into the euphuistic pathos of romantic self-reflection.

This is the first songwriting record to be released on Pampa Records, and yet "Sophia Kennedy" is perfectly at home on this label, which for almost a decade has been making the connection between tradition and modernity, avant-garde inventiveness and pop sensibility. One can detect different traditions and historical impressions in every track – yet you can forego all the analysis and simply enjoy the craftsmanship with which Sophia Kennedy creates an absolutely contemporary musical language from her knowledge of classic songwriting: "I want to take tradition to the limits, to where it becomes extreme," she says, yet it sounds so easy and not at all preconceived. The unheard-of refinement of this music lies in its apparent simplicity: "You just can’t be afraid," says Sophia Kennedy, "that it turns out to be pop music." Facebook here.

If Sophia Kennedy's distinctive and delightful vocals don't get you on 'Build Me A House' then the piano lead and innovative music surely will. It's the only song I have heard from the new album and it's good enough to ensure I will check out the rest.


Martin Simpson - Blues Run The Game.

Background - World renowned guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson releases his 20th solo album in 40 years ‘Trails & Tribulations’ on September 1st 2017 via Topic Records. The brand-new studio album, his first new solo work since 2013’s widely praised ‘Vagrant Stanzas’, will be available in standard and deluxe CD, digital download and standard vinyl (the latter through Vinyl 180).

‘Trails & Tribulations’ is a collection of songs about nature, about travels and about real life stories. There are traditional songs, poems and contemporary songs by great writers, and songs that I had to write because nobody else knew what I wanted to say. I travel, I learn songs, I write and try to get better at the skills required for me to do my job. I look at the world as I pass by, on the road, out of the train window, or as I stop and pay close attention to the square foot under my nose. There is so much to see and to hear and to inspire and to try and understand. I had a huge amount of fun playing and recording these songs, using different instruments, different noises, old friends and new ones, all of whom brought so much to the mix. Martin Simpson, April 2017.

Produced and engineered by Andy Bell, ‘Trails & Tribulations’ features some of Martin’s most inventive playing yet, showcasing his virtuosity on a variety of instruments including acoustic guitars, resonator guitars, Weissenbown lap steel guitar, electric guitars, 5 string banjo, ukulele – and voice.

Guest musicians on the new album are: Ben Nicholls (string bass and electric bass guitars), Toby Kearney (drums and percussion), Nancy Kerr (fiddle and viola), Andy Cutting (diatonic accordion and melodeon), John Smith (electric guitar and backing vocals), Helen Bell (strings), Amy Newhouse-Smith (backing vocals) and his daughter Molly Simpson on vocals. Website (includes tour details) here.

With his musical track record 'Blues Run The Game' reassures us that Martin Simpson can still turn out an inventive, original and top quality song. Melodic and with wonderful musical craftsmanship, the album may be a few months away, however I reckon it will be well worth the wait.


Lød - Folder

Background - Danish group Lød have shared the icy, brilliant  "Folder" ahead of their first EP for Tough Love Records (worldwide ex-Denmark) & Part Time (Denmark). Limited to 300 copies on 12", you can pre-order the 4-track EP here.

The four original members of Lød formed after graduating school in Copenhagen, inspired by the post-punk that was prominent in the fervent, close-knit music community of the city. The first version of Lød was very much birthed in this same shadow: loud and heavy.

With time and addition of a fifth member, their sound began to rely less on distortion, foregoing aggression for a greater focus on melody and rhythm. Bands like LCD Soundsystem & Kraftwerk provided further inspiration and it became an ambition for Lød to create music that - while never taking the easy route - could make people dance. With their debut EP, released via London-based label Tough Love, they have very much achieved this. They're a dance band, in the same way one might consider NEU a dance band.

The recording of Folder began in October 2016 with engineer Julius Pedersen, who helped the band shape tracks that had taken more than six months to write. The result is a 24-minute, four song debut EP sung in Danish. You might consider it uncompromising were the songs not so accessible.

And despite their length, these are 'songs', with defined melodies and structure. Looping and monolithic, early commentators in their home country have noted a “trance-punk” aspect to their sound. Such nomenclature can be tedious, but it's not a million miles from the truth. Bringing to mind the likes of Preoccupations in their similarly propulsive take on post-punk, Lød add a further glacial edge indebted to both early industrial and no wave. Facebook here.

Now trance punk is a new genre for me, however it does help convey what the new track 'Folder' is all about. Rhythmic and potent, even at eight minutes length this is both addictive and play again material.


Witching Waves - Better Run.

Background - Odd Box is delighted to be reissuing the debut album 'Fear Of Falling Down' by Witching Waves. The record was originally released on the Soft PowerRecordings (now sadly defunct) in 2014. It has long since sold out and the record sells for ££££s second hand. When Witching Waves approached the label with this idea it seemed to make perfect sense.  Here's some words from the band on why they wanted to reissue the LP.

Graeme from Soft Power came up to me after our set in front of literally no one in Edinburgh. It was our third gig with our new bass player, who had learned the songs in a soundcheck before an equally empty room in Manchester. Graeme said to me “I can’t wait to hear the EP, if even you wanted to do an album, we’d be up for that”. I politely thanked him, as my adrenaline soared. We were going to make An album based on this man’s very poor judgement. 

We had like five songs, and wrote six more. We recorded it. I agonised over every snare hit, and we made our first ever LP. Fear Of Falling Down came out in December 2014. I don’t think it made any charts. I think Tom Ravenscroft might have played ‘Better Run’ on his show. And we continued going up and down the country playing to almost no one.

Something strange happened though, ‘Better Run’ had a great video by Moe Meade, and a lot of people liked it. The record had received a glowing review in Drowned In Sound, and Norman Records, my favourite record shop, had deemed it worthy. Then the record sold out in less than a couple of months. All of our copies went in no time and before we knew it we were being asked where our LP was, and how people could get their hands on it. 

We’ve made another record since then, and that has done alright too. People still ask me about FOFD though, and seem at least moderately sad or genuinely put out when I say that we don’t have any left. One of those people happens to be Pete Dale out of Milky Wimpshake. Now it’s time for Fear Of Falling Down to get another shot, and be available to at least the people who asked for it the first time. Thanks to Trev from Oddbox this is possible, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll play to some people in Edinburgh. Bandcamp here.

The featured music video for 'Better Run' is mentioned in the promo above. It typifies the music found on the reissued 'Fear Of Falling Down' album, where unpretentious, hook laden totally natural songs are the norm.