What I’m Listening To.
TWOS – ‘Be The One’
TWOS posted a new track online today and it’s another sparkler from the mysterious producer. ‘Be The One’ is a funky offering brimming with lush loops and a crystallised female vocal, it’s a slick track that beams across a helluva lot of talent.
Holy Models – ‘Swimming’
Holy Models’ debut single ‘Swimming’ shows us why they could be the next big thing on the indie/funk/electro crossover radar. Hailing from Southern Australia, the trio stream a likeness to Friendly Fires and MGMT. A lovely summery track.
Once A Tree – ‘Lucky’
Couple duo Once A Tree recently released their debut EP, featuring ‘Lucky’. It’s a chilled track, immersed in the buzzing fountain of pulsating loops and breathy vocals. Toronto’s Hayden and Jayli Wolf certainly know how to manoeuvre their skills around to make something stunning.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’
Another gem from the Arctics and another song where Alex Turner asks another question.‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ is a worthy follow-up to ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ I cannot wait for their new album, ‘AM’, next month, especially after their sparkling set at Glastonbury this year. Relive it below.
HAIM – ‘The Wire’
This week has been pure Haim Time, sponsored by a shiny new studio version of live fave ‘The Wire’ – complete with strings. With chanting drums, an alluring melody and scuffling guitars, it’s another pristine slice of charm from the Cali sisters. I mean, who doesn’t like Haim? Hurry up and get this album out girls!
Foals – ‘Bad Habit’ (Alex Metric remix)
London Producer Alex Metric’s Foals rework is explosive. Building up in the beginning with Yannis’ voice saying “would you forget me now” on a heartfelt loop, it conjures the power to take off into a full-blown dance track. The organic calypso drums lend it an extra pop of greatness. ‘Bad Habit’ is one of my favourite tracks of the year – so far, the top spot is still open – and Alex Metric has done it SO much justice.
Limalo – ‘Tiwa’
Absolutely crammed with experimental vibes, Texas duo Limalo interlink all kinds of shifting beats and loops and ‘Tiwa’ is no exception. Lush samples gradually gravitate their way through the bustling atmosphere as everything locks together. Some hazy guest vocal samples would add another texture.
Float Fall – ‘Someday’
“Someday you’ll understand the reason why you just can’t be my man”, sweetly sings Rozanne Descheemaeker before Ruben Lefever, her Float Fall counterpart, joins to harmonise. While ‘Someday’ holds simplistic lyrics, it’s the humming atmosphere, cracking beat and twinkling keys that make Float Fall’s first single a joyous one. I want to hear more from the Berlin duo, NOW!
Weirds – Crocodile
With an intro sounding like a very down tempo ‘Inhaler’ by Foals, but being gurgled underwater, ‘Crocodile’ sparks interest from the start. There’s hectic array of psychedelia, which overpowers the drums most of the time. The brash vocal is fuzzy, but the teenage angst within fights past the uncertainty for glory. A close match for early Kasabian.
Ghost Loft – ‘So High’
Wonderfully calming with soothing samples, complimented with the glistening vocal. “You make me so high, you bring my alive”, coos LA producer Danny Choi, the man behind the seductive tone of Ghost Loft. His other tracks, like the glitchy ‘Seconds’ and the chilled beat of ‘Blow’ all show why he’s one to remember when you’re topping up your ‘quiet’ playlist.
FTSE – ‘SIRVYVIN’
If I saw anything with the word ‘FTSE’ on it I’d usually turn the page, with little knowledge/interest in the financial word, but not in this case. Midlands producer FTSE has created his own intriguing sound made up of deep scuzzy beats complimented by his soft and simple vocal – “This ain’t no life at all, we’re fighting, every day we’re fighting”. With a lot of producers on the scene at the moment, FTSE has done well to found his own style. ‘SIRVYVIN’ is tagged with ‘Hopelessness’ for a genre on Soundcloud, interesting.
Sivu – ‘Better Man Than He’
“We’ll find faith in the most magical of places, we’ll find home in the smallest of rooms” opens the chorus in an anthemic fashion, which is sure to go down well live. The ‘lo’s’ that signal the beginning of the song create a conscious atmosphere, and are reminiscent of something Alt-J-ish. Sivu a.k.a James Page’s dynamic voice lends itself beautifully and together with its uplifting feel, it reminds me of Bastille and Tom Odell. Sivu is one to keep an eye on.
The remix of ‘Better Man Than He’ by Eagles For Hands is also splendid with handclaps and gorgeous echos.
This is also a favourite pick from the past week. AlunaGeorge doing ‘The Jungle Book’. Please just do a Disney songs EP? Thanks.
Tropics – ‘Home & Consonance’
Tropics, a.k.a Chris Ward, has unveiled the title track ‘Home & Consonance’ from his new EP out in April. The Southampton-based artist layers up intricate jingles over a precise array of loops and padding drums creating a lush outcome. His gentle, sometimes shaky voice offers “It’s been so long and you won’t stay if you see me fall”.
Hudson Taylor – ‘Cinematic Lifestyle’
“If it’s love that you want, well then please won’t you come and get it” tempts Dublin brothers Alfie and Harry Hudson-Taylor over the quaint strums, which lends ‘Cinematic Lifestyle’ its folk characteristics. The duo, who are only 18 and 20 years old, have just finished up on tour with Jake Bugg. They’ve also pulled the plug on doing SXSW this year to focus on their writing, v.focused!
REID – Wake
Bookended by a rustic crackle, ‘Wake’ brings a classic case of head-bobbing along to the disjointed loops and dazed vocals that barely get off the starting blocks, so they become a cemented effect. The Irish producer has been compared to fellow countryman MMOTHS, who’s similar uncertain wash of spiralling sounds allows you to be submerged in the enormous atmosphere created.
Frankie & The Heartstrings – Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light)
This is a potential ‘cheese’ tune for years to come, y’know. It seems ideal for those awkward family party-in-a-hall situations. Musical chairs springs to mind with the baffling stop/start bassline and the camp ‘Aha, Aha, Ahas’ entice a drunken sing song. Though, the track has probably just been mixed up with Frankie Francis’ audition tape for when ‘Grease’ rolls in to the Sunderland Empire. Cheese comments aside, it’s a gooden and another hearty addition to F&TH’s ever growing list of trademark pop ditties. So c’mon everyone, have a boogie to this. Oh and good luck with that audition Frankie!
Zulu Winter – Never Leave
Despite an opening sounding like synthed up version of a toddler refusing to go to bed when asked, it’s a glorious offering from revitalising newbies, Zulu Winter. Layers are built up and dropped, kind of making you feel like you’re drifting in and out of consciousness, but in a very good way. There’s the eerie shrill of what can only be described as a ‘ghost train’ soundtrack, along with the equally as eerie words of Will Daunt stating how he’s ‘never leave’ us. These sit comfortably on the booming bed of the tribal drums, creating an atmosphere confirming that the hype they’ve gathered is genuine.
First Aid – The Lion’s Roar
“The lion’s roar is something I’ve heard before.” No need to boast girls, everyone’s heard this either on David Attenborough or at the zoo. This forestry drawl is not needed to prove it. The folk-obsessed, jumper-clad siblings return with this very monotonous attempt, that just doesn’t cut it compared to their humble beginnings like, ‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight.’ Though come to think of it, it probably does sounds a hell of a lot better if you ever happened to be sitting around an open campfire with some good mates, contently roasting your mallows. An enchanting atmosphere? Maybe, just.
This is impressive. It’s like Hanni El Khatib has digested most of the rock genres from the 50′s onwards and regurgitated them. There’s influences from the Rock ‘N Roll era, 70′s/80′s Punk and some weighty riffs that could easily rival Jack White and Kings Of Leon. His cover of ‘You Rascal You’ and his own venture, ‘Loved One’ are incredibly slick and crunchy, definitely worth getting your choppers into. He’s on to a winner here!
‘You Rascal You’
New Yorkers Milagres have something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. Maybe it’s their use of the much extinct xylophone or their alternative/indie crossover. Whatever it is, it works. The words heard from Kyle Wilson are random but quaint to say the least, ‘All the birds seem to sing in the key of H. The Emperor of Ice Cream is here to stay.’ Give them a listen.
‘Here To Stay’
Futures – Islands In The Sea
Futures gave everyone a taste of what’s to come this week by putting new track, ‘Islands In The Sea’ up for free download. The four-piece share their ever-growing potential in progression of last years’ EP, ‘The Holiday.’ Everything that matters to the band is in there. The romantic lyricism, stressed chord progressions and the notable calm middle-eight, that is Futures’ trademark. The soft vocal is discretely projected as the intricate riff accompanies.
Download it HERE.
Fenech Soler – Lies
Electropop outfit, Fenech Soler are back on rightful form, after singer Ben Duffy’s recent Cancer battle forced them to postpone their UK tour back in March. Singles, ‘Lies’ and ‘Demons’ are examples of why the band deserve recognition. With waves to electro goodness and a vocal that sits at the higher-pitched end of the tone spectrum, it sounds impeccable. For fans of ‘Foster The People’ and ‘Everything Everything’.
Two-piece DZ Deathrays showcase ‘Rad Solar’, an adrenaline infused track where you’re in touching distance of the crunching riffs and the harsh sounding words, giving them an edge. Though at 1:45 this song may look brash, the song needs no more, its punchy message is apparent from the first few seconds. Short tracks intrigue, persuading you to listen to more. This has been done recently by The Vaccines and look at the sudden success they’ve encountered over the past year.
As one of the creative minds behind the Mystery Jets’ back catalogue and having previously penned tracks for Mark Ronson, I think it’s fair to say that Kai Fish is ready to produce some solo work. Fish’s recent single, ‘Cobalt Cheeks’ presents his talent as a singer/ songwriter. The distorted bass line fuzzes contently with some plucky guitar and a soft melodic vocal for effect, reminding me of the mid ‘Blur’ era. It’s a progression from the Mystery Jets; the boppy rhythms have gone, replaced with layers of maturity and depth.
Sheffield duo Slow Club are back with new single, ‘Where I’m Waking’ ahead of their second album, ‘Paradise.’ Their folk-rock sound sets them apart and they’ve got the whole male/female duo thing down to an art. They both cry, ‘You’ve got something, I’ve got something’. Yes, they both have something, something to sing about. Though with their musical chemistry it’s hard to believe that they have never been romantically involved with each other. A song of the promising sort, ‘Paradise’ is destined for greatness.
A happy sounding song. Danish ex-balleina, Nanna Øland Fabricius or ‘Oh land’ if you prefer, chimes in with her mystical words about dreams being under her pillow over the tapping beat and pulsing keys to charm your ears. Her self-titled record, is out now and you may even recognise track, ‘Son Of A Gun.’
The Drums are back this week with their new offering, ‘Portamento.’ ‘Money’ is the first single from the album and it’s a developed sound from the indie-pop trio. It still has the upbeat rhythm and an intericate guitar riff similar to, ‘Lets Go Surfing’ but it sounds suitably more mature. Singer Jonathan Pierce bravely confesses, ‘I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money.’ The story of our lives really.
James Blake & Bon Iver – Falls Creek Boys Choir
It’s been the collaboration that everyone wanted to hear because of the great amount of diversity between the two artists. Yes, American Folk band, Bon Iver and London’s Prince of Dubstep, James Blake have joined forces. At a first glance, it seems weird but as you listen to it you realise that it’s not actually that weird at all. Bon Iver and James Blake both make beautiful, spine-tingling music in their own field, so why wouldn’t this be good? As with any James Blake song, it will take several listens to fully appreciate and understand but believe me, it’s worth it!
Ben Howard’s captivating voice oozes with wisdom and enchantment, sitting perfectly upon some fine acoustic noodling. The video captures the essence of the single, in the natural and vibrant surroundings. It paints an image of the chilled out track as Howard buzzes an honest mantra, ‘Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.’ Effortlessly beautiful.
‘Spector’ are one of those bands that sound cool, in their namesake and in the overall vibe of their single, ‘Never Fade Away.’ Singer Fred Macpherson bares a confident yet solemn tone to his voice, as he repeats ‘You know i’ll never fade away.’ The vocal rests over a slow initial beat and gradually developing in to a steady effort from all five members, which reminds me of ‘Pulp.’ With their simple lyrics, seen to be a trend this year with bands like ‘The Vaccines’, ‘Spector’ are on to a winner.
You can sense the energy in this track a mile off. The Oxford boys’ experimental direction allows ‘Crystals’ to vibrate in its upbeat charm and the use of panning creates illusions for your ears. Literally. Their brilliant single, ‘SWIMMHAUS JOHANNESBURG’ was released earlier this month, we’re just waiting on their much anticipated debut now.
TOWN – Teenage Sky
This week, Newport four-piece TOWN release their debut single ‘Teenage Sky’, showcasing their obvious Punk/Rock influences in the angsty vocal from frontman Alex Nash. The band have previously toured with The Buzzcocks and The Bluetones. I saw them supporting Kids In Glass Houses at The Kingston Peel last year and was impressed with their energy. Combining this with the strong effort shown in this track, they’re sure to expand their touring back catalogue and fan base over the next year.
Spotlight Kid – There’s A Reason Why
Spotlight Kid have received a lot of love from the BBC recently. They performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at this year’s Glasto and their track, ‘There’s A Reason Why’ has recently been added to the Radio 1 playlist. I can see why, there’s certainly a gap in the 2011 music scene for their ‘shoegazing’ and 90′s Psychedelic rock’, as their sound has been previously defined as. The Nottingham band released their first album back in 2006 and have since then have released a second EP. In the Autumn, we’ll should see another release from them. It’s the ideal song, enabling their potential shine through.
Saint Saviour – This Ain’t No Hymn
Saint Saviour has been dabbling in the music scene for some time now, with her involvment in various projects including co-writting and providing some of the vocals for Groove Armada’s 2010 album ‘Black Light.’ Now, Becky Jones is ready to go it alone and is preparing for the release of her second solo EP. Her voice is mystical and flawless, even as a live artist. I was fortunate enough to catch her support Hurts at Somerset House and she put her heart and soul into the performance. Saint Saviour will be flying the flag for British Female Artists, joining the likes of Florence Welch and Clare Maguire in no time.
Quirky male singer/songwriters have not been in short supply recently. We’ve been introduced to the likes of Ed Sheeran, Luke Leighfield and Patrick Wolf and now there’s a new kid on the block. Dan Smith, AKA Basillie has been creating a buzz this year and it’s obvious why. Debut single, ‘Flaws’ is a fine slice of indie pop with a sincere and smooth vocal. As far as the lyrics go he sings, ‘When all of your flaws and all of my flaws are laid out one by one.’ What flaws? There’s none apparent to me, watch out for Bastille!
Producer SBTRKT (abbreviation of ‘Subtract’ for those still trying to get their head around it) remains a mystery, well sort of though he’s since been outed as the mask-clad Aaron Jerome. SBTRKT’s electro ambiance fuses the usual components. The synth vaguely resembles the croak of a bullfrog, werring to mould around the beat, giving the song an identity. For fans of James Blake, Katy B and Little Dragon
Camden quartet, Tribes are bringing honest rock music with some evident grunge influence to 2011, presented in the raspy voice of frontman Johnny lloyd and their laid back riffs. They seem to withhold a positive outlook judging from the lyric, ‘Oh no stranger, you’re just like me, These things happen, we were children in the mid-90′s.’ The 90′s was obviously an era that they have dissected their influences from, in the form of the Alternative American scene with bands such as Pixies and Nirvana. After appearing at the numerous festivals they have lined up, they’re bound to be united with some new fans.
Some fine American indie-rock hitting our shores this summer in aid of Glasto. The five-piece’s melodic tunes of their first EP features the solid vocal of frontman Christian Zucconi with a delicate and precise offering from the voice of Hannah Hooper underlying freely in the mist, undoubtably their USP. Throw in some breezy riffs and a simple beat also and it’s proven that Grouplove are ready for festival fever.
Alice Gold is yet another astonishing British female artist to emerge, filed next to the likes of Ellie, Marina and Jessie, she’s another ready to hit the big time. The certain ‘pop’ touch in ‘Runaway Love’ makes it radio-worthy and effortlessly infectious. ‘Orbitor’ has a an opening bassline to rival all basslines and a ranging vocal, boasting her potential. On tour with Female Duo, The Pierces and another candidate for Worthy Farm, she’s sure to pick up a lot support this summer.
Alice Gold – Orbiter
‘There is nothing but chemistry here, and with that in mind we have nothing to fear’ sings Ric Phethean in a soothing, laid back tone and he’s not mistaken in his honesty. Within Tall Ships, there is a great deal of chemistry. The instruments intertwine with ease, the sharp picks of the guitar strings, deep plucks of the bass, which moulds itself around the beat. It’s an impeccably tight effort from the falmouth-based trio.
Example’s risks and hard work have paid off. As he sings in his chart topper CTWYKM ‘I’ve never been afraid of the highest heights’ and its a good job, standing tall at the top of the charts for the first time this week. And I’m not afraid to say that I love Example. From his witty quips on society in ‘From Space’, ‘I got brand new socks, pack of five I’ve been down the shops’ and ‘Blogspot I’ve reclaimed the topspot, Come down in Kate Moss your topshop.’ To the fabulous use of synths and beats, Elliot Gleave AKA Example knows exactly how to get a crowd going as well as now having the perfect ingredients for a number one. Much deserved after 7 years of grafting, Good On Ya!
Like the illusionist, ‘Houdini’ this song is mysterious. The LA five-piece released their debut album, ‘Torches’ last month and the classy, memorable synth patterns and frontman Mark Foster’s varying pitch draws comparisons to fellow americans MGMT.
Blitz Kids have had some pretty big support slots recently, which has helped them to start making their mark on the UK rock scene. They’ve supported the likes of We Are The Ocean and Mayday Parade and have just released the video for track ‘Story’ which is availible for free download on their site. It also features a guest vocal from Aled Phillips of Kids In Glass Houses. Its a big song for a band with a promising future.
Singer/Songwriter, Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s soft, husky vocal compliments the clean strums of his guitar. Refrain, ‘I’ve got a plan, I’ve got an atlas in my hands’ is wonderfully uplifting and perfect words for an acoustic track. Leftwich releases his debut, ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’ next month and it’s sure to be a hit judging from his previous EPs.
Sibling trio, Kitty Daisy & Lewis show their cross-genre influences on this record. A fusion of Country, Rock n’ Roll and Swing makes them unique in this day and age. The vocal is shared between the three members of the Durham family, who also play a range of instruments including the harmonica, accordion and guitar to name a few. ‘Smoking In Heaven’, their follow up to their 2008 self-titled debut was released last week. It was recorded in their home studio, without using any form of digital equipment, keeping with their vintage 1950′s feel. It sounds like the soundtrack in an American diner and you get the instant urge to bop and click your fingers along to it. Brilliant!
‘Going Up The Country’
‘I’m So Sorry’
A Slice of indie electro for fans of Foals and Friendly Fires in its echoed words, experimental synths and prolonged intricate beat.
Formed from the ashes of The Automatic and Bloc Party, this trio are bringing a fresh feel to the Post-hardcore genre. Their heavy riffs and powerful vocal draw similarities to the likes of Glassjaw and The Used.
JOIA – Enough Of You
Expect BIG things from this band. They’ve been in the pipeline for a while now and have previewed a taster of what is to come with track ‘Enough Of You’ via their Facebook page. Lead vocalist, Athina Andrelos (formally of pop/rock Surrey outfit ‘Consort With Romeo’) showcases her flawless vocal over the support the polished backing complete with a classy guitar solo. Check it out HERE.
Also, take a look at their acoustic cover of Rihanna’s (Oh Na Na) ‘What’s My Name.’
The St Alban’s trio are back with their much anticipated follow-up to their 2008 debut. ‘Pala’ is bursting with indie electro hits and track ‘Hawaiian Air’ is the sums up the band’s essence perfectly. Familiar build ups and fast paced dance worthy tracks inhabit the record. It’s an evident progression and though they had a difficult task on their hands topping that brilliant debut of theirs (I’m talking about tracks like ‘Skeleton Boy’ and ‘Paris’ here…) it’s fair to say that they have just about done it.
Young The Giant – My Body
Formally known as, ‘The Jakes’ Californian five-piece ‘Young The Giant’ have been on my playlist this week. The gutsy voice of Frontman Sameer Gadhir accompanies the appropriate riffs and bouncy drumbeat for an alternative rock act. After seeing them perform on last week’s ‘Later Live with Jools Holland’, I was impressed by their stage presence and energy.
Miles Kane made up a third of indie band The Rascals before his departure, then he made up half of The Last Shadow Puppets and now in 2011, he is going it alone. This week saw the release of his debut, including previous single ‘Come Closer’ which is a track of pure indie joy in its strung out lyrics. Seriously catchy.
London trio ‘Is Tropical’ define their sound in their name. Their experimental, synth driven music creates a positive vibe, perfect for the summer (tropical) heat.
Hailing from Montreal, ‘Little Scream’ is the blissful voice of Laurel Sprengelmeyer. Her laid-back vocal effort and equally chilled backing sum up the essence of her mysterious sound.
Nashville rockers Mona have the familiar American alternative rock sound going on. With their solid vocal and a good ol’ ‘ah ah ah ah ah ah, whoa whaos’ along with some classic sounding riffs, they seem to have been influenced by fellow Tennesseans Kings Of Leon. And who can blame them for looking up to them after their success, Mona are definitely on the road to the big time.
Dutch Uncles – Fragrant
Indie band Dutch Uncles formed in 2008. Their intricacy defines their fresh sound. These lay in the mist of a deep baseline and beat, drawing parallels to the likes of Talking Heads and Foals. The delicate vocal and its varying pitch, compliments the deeper tones in the song.
Noah and the Whale – Tonight’s The Kind Of Night
Taken from their 3rd album ‘Last Night On Earth’ it shows how they have grown up musically since their debut single ‘5 Years Time’ with ex-band member and now Brit Winner Laura Marling. This album is full of beautifully crafted records that is still evident of their beloved folk elements, though now contained within some heavier bass lines and backing. One of my favourite albums of the year so far.
We Are The Ocean – The Waiting Room
The Essex post-hardcore mob released their second studio album last week and it certainly lives up to their past standards, beyond even. What makes WATO so listenable for me is their impressive lyricism along with the contrast between the vocalists. Liam Cromby’s voice is clear and flawless, with the purposeful strength to rival screamer Dan Brown. The layers and depth created through this are seen in other successful bands like Underoath and The Blackout.
New-Zealanders, ‘The Naked and Famous’ are embarking on British shores after their debut single ‘Young Blood’ went to the top spot in their homeland. Frontwoman, Alisa Xayalith’s feisty vocals give this record a striking edge and the ‘yeah yeah yeah yeahs’ make it oh so catchy.
Jeffrey Kino is the alter ego of KLAUS, an acoustic singer songwriter who reached the final stages on Channel 4’s ‘Orange Unsigned Act’ in 2009. Nowadays, his sound is more upbeat but still is evident of his familiar mellow vocal.
‘Brother’ are 2011’s answer to Britpop. With their rugged guitar riffs and a vocal to rival Liam Gallagher, these Slough boys are giving the genre a fresher feel.
Now for some original Britpop at it’s very best. I’ve been listening to a lot of Blur during this recent period of decent weather, holding on to the hope that they will come out of their hibernation/side projects/cheese farming to tour again soon. You can’t say no to a bit of ‘Country House’ in the sunshine. Wahooo.
The Vaccines - If You Wanna
London indie-rock band, ‘The Vaccines’, formed only last year have released their top five debut ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ and are set to play at numerous festivals this summer.
James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream
James Blake’s music is intriguing. The combination of the disjointed beats, drawn out synth sequences and Blake’s repetitive and echoed vocal compliment each other well, hence why his self-titled debut charted in the top ten in February.
Alex Clare – Too Close
I Saw the London Singer/Songwriter support Clare Maguire at London’s KCSLU last month. I love the soul to his vocal, with the distinct hint of Dubstep.
Frankie & The Heartstrings – Hunger
Don’t be put off by the ‘Noun & The Noun’ name, I know they’re cropping up left, right and centre what with, ‘Florence and The Machine’, ‘Esben and The Witch’ and ‘Marina and The Diamonds’ but trust me like the others, Frankie & The Heartstrings are worth a listen. F&TH released their debut, ‘Hunger’ in February and have been tipped for a great 2011.