Archive for Introducing
Back in the summer of 2010, we hosted a record release show for Ice Black Birds at the now defunct Flowerpot venue in Kentish Town to mark the first ever single on LFC Records. Supporting them that night was a plucky singer-songwriter with a big voice and bags of potential called Declan McClafferty, who since then, we’ve recently learned, has relocated to Donegal in his native Ireland, and formed a rock band called In Their Thousands.
The results are no less than impressive, and indeed, since their inception in mid-2011, ITT seem to have caused quite a stir in that part of the world, picking up plaudits from Hot Press and RTE 2fm (essentially their equivalents of NME and Radio 1) – something that culminated in them winning a Guinness sponsored competition back in November declaring them as the best unsigned band in Ireland, after a showdown at Dublin’s well-known Whelan’s venue.
They’ve also recently recorded a 4-track EP (“Cellars”) with Villagers and Cathy Davey producer Tommy McLaughlin, which acts as a great introduction to their big sounding, rich “alternative folk rock”.
McClafferty’s well honed, gritty vocals are a highlight, and when flanked by some rousing harmonies and a big chorus, it’s a powerful alchemy. “War Of Our Worlds”, in particular, is an exercise in clinical, FM-friendly indie rock, and is one of those songs with the potential to open doors to bigger and better things. “0400″, on the other hand, is a more subtle affair, but packs a similar emotional punch – indicative of a band with more than one trick up their sleeve. More where this came from, please.
South Wales’ The Vestals seem to be the latest in that line of bands who have seemingly appeared ‘from nowhere’. Indeed, as recently as late December, we in these parts were not overly familiar with their work, but now, in mid January, they seem almost inescapable.
There’s probably a good reason for this, and we’re going to suggest it’s the direct fallout from two absolutely mesmerising tunes, which have just been posted online and will make up their debut, double A-side single, which is to be released by our close acquaintances at Killing Moon on 11 February.
It’s dreamy, electro infused indie-pop that will remind many a music fan of why they fell in love with recorded sound in the first place. As for reference points, we can hear everything from early Ash to Placebo to Death Cab, and when this is channeled through some watertight pop writing, the result is a very powerful one. “Perfect Pain” is the big one here, displaying a dab hand around a nifty chorus and an intensity that never once wanes during its 4-minute duration.
Already this year the band have appeared at Artrocker’s New Blood Festival and confirmed a tour with Pure Love, as well as a launch for the aforementioned release at The Social on Saturday 16 February. 2013 is set to be a great year for music by all accounts, with new and ‘returning’ artists alike, and with these guys set to star in the limelight, it just got a little better.
If you’re influenced by people like Cold War Kids, Wintersleep, Band Of Horses and Arcade Fire, and have a violin in the mix, it’s not going to be complete tosh, is it? Well, it could be, but it’s easier to be sympathetic certainly. It’s a firm footing from which to introduce a new band. Winterhours, from Winchester, fit this above description and, very pleasingly, put their own South Coast spin on it all, performing some pretty affecting, powerful and most importantly, hook-filled music.
We’ve been fortunate enough to catch them live on a couple of occasions recently (at The Borderline and The Enterprise), both times on the same bill as our very own Divers, and can confirm they’re able to do it live as well. Research informs us they’ve shared stages with the lauded likes of Cloud Control, Wolf Gang and To Kill A King, and on current form, it shouldn’t be too long before they’re mentioned in the same sentences as this bunch.
The band are kicking off 2013 with the release of a new single, entitled “Ocean Heart”, and rather good it is too. Drawing the listener in from the outset and building up to a suitably rousing finale, it sets out their stall perfectly for what could be a fruitful year for the quartet. They’re back at The Borderline in London on Saturday 2 February, which could well be one for the diary.
Now then. Anyone who became acquainted with our new music blog over the last year may well have realised it’s been on a small hiatus since the summer. Apologies to any regular readers – other projects took over for a bit. However, we’ve been wanting to resurrect it for a while, and after hearing new London band Palace, decided there is indeed no time like the present.
Palace’s first demos were posted online over the summer under the guise of their singer Leo Wyndham, and displayed a knack for a great tune and bags of promise. Now Leo has recruited a full band (Wilby, Matt and Rupert, says Facebook), performed some new recordings with said members, and the results are startlingly good.
It’s blissed out, dark and atmospheric folk driven blues, with nods to early Kings Of Leon (see “Trani” or “Milk” especially), Jeff Buckley and Dan Auerbach. “I Want What You Got” in particular is refreshingly timeless in its disdain for current trends, carried by Wyndham’s slightly lackadaisical but always emotive vocal. The songs suggest a band who have been together for much longer than they have, and a maturity well beyond their years.
Their first gig proper happened on Tuesday night, where they opened for James Iha (of Smashing Pumpkins fame) at Bush Hall. We weren’t there, unfortunately, but have it on good authority it was something that people will be talking about some time from now. We’ll be damn sure to get down to one of the next ones – they tread the boards at The Wreck in Camberwell this Friday (tomorrow), and then at Power’s Bar in Kilburn on Wednesday 19 December.
An argument we often have with friends and colleagues concerns the originality of new recording artists: well into the 21st Century, with music as a commercial product a relatively old-hat idea, is it possible to create something totally devoid of influences, and something that’s not going to remind the listener of something else?
Probably not, we’re going to suggest, especially if one chooses to trade with discernible song structures and obvious hooks. Which leaves us with the next best thing – music that’s going to reference a number of well known artists of the past, and hopefully, give it a current and interesting twist. London’s BLACKEYE do just this – “Bail Me Out”, the first song we’ve heard of theirs, instantly transports us back to the summer of 1996, with Britpop in full swing, the England football team coming close to glory on home turf, posters telling us to choose life, a North-South divide created by two rival pop groups, and a stagnating Tory government.
Sonically, it’s the updated version of Sleeper, Elastica or Republica, and something that wouldn’t be at all out of place on Chris Evans’ TFI Friday. Undeniably British, and evoking images of pop culture over the last twenty years or so as it races along, it also contains a radio-ready, festival-friendly hook that never strays far from the mix.
We expect this track isn’t far away from heavy rotation here, there and everywhere, and where (Viva) Brother might have failed to have the majority of us nostalgically flocking back to the Met Bar, or The Good Mixer, we’re backing this lot to do the business – particularly if they can come up with other material as jubilantly catchy as this.
It seems whenever the sun rears its head in the UK, t-shirts come off uniformly, people are seen carrying bags of charcoal around the place and flock to public houses to sit outside and drink cider on ice. Social media updates about how scorching it is clog up news feeds everywhere, and we’re warned to watch our water consumption. Also, bands with sunnier dispositions start reaching out to us more than they might have done previously – “Sunny summer music!”; “#summervibes”, and the rest.
It’s a promotional opportunity not to be missed – people feel better about everything this time of year, and a band that can soundtrack any of these moments has the ability to make a name for themselves quickly.
We’re going to suggest that Sydney’s SURES might sum up a heatwave better than most – seconds after pressing play on their tracks “Stars” and “Poseidon”, we were whipping on shorts and sunglasses and longing for cocktails on the beach.
Their sound – of course born out a life in all round sunnier climes to ours – is an energetic, hooky and melodic one, merging the jangly power pop of the C86 scene with the current lo-fi sensibilities of Best Coast, Wavves and Real Estate – all of whom they’ve opened for in their native Oz. Signed to Sydney based independent label Ivy League (Alpine, Cloud Control, Deep Sea Arcade), a debut EP, also entitled “Stars”, has just been released there to some gleaming reviews. This weekend (28-29 July), they’ll be supporting Youth Lagoon in Sydney and Melbourne respectively – making for quite the piping hot ticket. Offers of flights and accommodation most welcome.
We were very excited this morning to come across this video on YouTube: “Be Close To Me” is a slice of dark and atmospheric 80s pop perfection from DIAZ, the brand new incarnation of a group we’ve released on our label in the past (we’ll let you work out the rest).
Judging by the quality of this first offering, exciting things could well lie in wait as a result of the re-brand. The prominent bass and drums draw you in, before the spotlight shifts to a powerful and affecting vocal, which then hits us hard with one of the strongest, most memory imbedding hooks we’ve heard in 2012. It’s the comfortable, relaxed sound of a band who’ve clearly played with each other some time, and have found a powerful alchemy as a result.
The video, a montage of grainy footage from 1980s New York City, fits in perfectly with the new sound, all 3am, neon lights, The Cure and New Order, with a nod to the recent dancefloor filling offerings of Holy Ghost.
At just under three minutes, we’re left wanting more and wondering what’s next – of course their intention. We guess the first port of call for anyone curious is The Nest in Dalston on Saturday 28 July, when DIAZ make their live debut.
Whilst we’re probably well past the era of indie rock as a cultural phenomenon in the UK (2001 – 2006; Is This It right through to The Automatic’s “Monster”, we’d speculate), there are of course always going to be groups of four or five men trying to relive the salad days of guitars in the top 40, enthusiastic Kiwis on brown couches and a time when we regularly noted what was being said in the weekly music press.
A memorable, guitar based three and a half minutes is definitely a timeless thing, and success can of course occur when a group composes just this. The latest band to take a punt with guitars, bass, drums and some well placed hooks are London’s The BlackWhite, a quartet fronted by a singer called Josh Bray, who enjoyed some success as a folky solo artist prior to this latest incarnation.
It’s Bray’s emotive and tuneful vocal that takes the lead on the band’s first ever demos, of which “Cut Through The Middle” and “Born To Better Times” are obvious, immediate highlights. Everything from the noisy rock of Incubus and Brand New to the mellower and moody atmospherics of Cold War Kids and The Boxer Rebellion is audible in the song writing, suggesting a band who’ve lived through and appreciated a number of ages in the rock ‘n’ roll lexicon.
Their take on it all, whilst of course nothing particularly new, is sharply executed, and hints at something bigger – if they continue to write songs in this vein we’re sure an imagination capturing moment (every successful indie band has one) is within their capability. We’re very much tuned in to their station, which broadcasts for only the second time live this Thursday night at West London’s AAA venue.
We’re sure there are many types of bands in the world. But we’re going to simplify things for the purpose of this piece, and to illustrate a point. We’re going to suggest that there are two types of bands – bands that are simply here today, gone tomorrow, and ones that stay with us for a lot longer, are intrinsic to our record collections, and never veer far from our drunken pub conversations. To add to the latter category – bands who we’d go and see year after year, and ones we get excited by when they announce they’re releasing a record, or coming to our town.
It’s relatively early days for Los Angeles’ Milo Greene – they’re releasing their debut full length in the US next week – but we’re going to go out on a limb here and confidently suggest this bohemian looking quintet are with us for the long haul.
We came across these three songs of theirs (below) a few days ago, and have been listening to them wherever and whenever possible ever since. Put simply, it’s gorgeous, melody heavy, harmony filled indie folk that seduces you on first listen. It’s music, we imagine, created by people who were raised on the likes of Love and Crosby, Stills and Nash and have more recently lived in a world where Local Natives, Fleet Foxes and Edward Sharpe are lauded recording artists, all of the time basking in glorious Californian sunshine.
If there was ever an example of music being a direct product of its environment, this is probably it. Early single “1957″ is the standout, and is sure to be Milo Greene’s calling card as they begin their inevitable rise to the top of alternative indie world. At three-and-a-half minutes, it encapsulates all that’s great about this band, and by the time it reaches its chanting, fist-pumping climax, you’re typing their name into Google to find out more.
In the age of instant gratification and a discernible lack of patience from us consumers, it really does help to have a web search friendly band name. More often than not, if we can’t find what we’re looking for within a couple of minutes, we’re off elsewhere, onto the next thing. So well done, Eye Emma Jedi, you’ve passed the first test with flying colours.
We guess the second one is the strength of the music available. And on the evidence of the songs they’ve got online, we can confirm that this Norwegian but now London based quintet are an exciting new guitar band who play an energetic, in-your-face brand of indie rock – the type that made us fall in love with the genre in the first place.
After building up a head of steam back in Norway (their first three singles made it onto playlists at national radio, for one) their next move is an introduction to the notoriously tough UK market – a debut single, ‘Sin’, is being released digitally by our friends over at Killing Moon Limited on 6 August. Of course, it’s hard to predict what the public will lap up at any point in time, but you’ve got to feel that EEJ’s overt enthusiasm and a penchant for a big hook will give them a fighting chance of success.
The aforementioned single opens up with a attention grabbing guitar riff, quite possibly inspired by Devil’s Crayon by Wild Beasts, before moving into all out foot stomping, festival friendly territory. It’s B-side Crucified that really takes the bacon, though – we never thought it was possible to mix late noughties Northern indie (Courteeners, Pigeon Detectives, Little Man Tate, et al) with the stadium ready sheen of Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age, but hey, we’re all ears if someone manages to do this with aplomb. We’re imagining an absolute riot live, too.