Featuring Leopard Lake, (pictured), The Seniors, Matt Hammond, Dizraeli, Nix Dadry (ft Julie Claire), Less Than Nothing & The Musical Endeavour.
Thanks to all the musicians who submitted there work this month, we’re happy to present the tracks that brought 2018 to a close!
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Chance by ArcM
Hailing from Melbourne, Victoria, ArcM aim to provide “noises and sounds with vocal tapestries”
The music video for Chance is a charmingly simple animation accompanied by the track, itself consisting of retro drum samples, simple chord layers and lush vocal harmonies. A deceptively minimal backing for a track as deep as this.
Robinson Crusoe by Billy Qvarnström
The heavier styles seem to enjoy staying underground, so it’s a treat for us to include Billy’s work here. Released late December, Sweedish multi-instrumentalist Billy Qvarnström displays his aggressive djent-come-mathcore instrumental ability and adept production skills with the title track from his Robinson Crusoe E.P.
Ideal for fans of Meshuggah, Gojira, Lamb of God, etc.
Oceans by Dusky Sunday
Dusky Sunday are a duo from Suffolk, UK, who provide gentle, up-beat contemporary folk à la Fleetwood Mac, Gabrielle Aplin, etc.
Oceans is the band’s debut single and comes along with this adorable single-take music video. The track is beautifully catchy, with solid just-interesting-enough backing. You will have this in you head for days after listening, be warned.
Razorblade by Blake Red
Based in Chigaco, Illanois, Blake Red is an emerging alt-metal solo artist. Her brand of powerful, passionate rock is inspired by the Seattle grunge, (Alice In Chains in particular), movement but also contains compositional nods towards contemporary alternative artists.
Razorblade is taken from Blake Red’s debut E.P., created with Grammy award-winning producer & engineer, Darryl Swann. We hear sections of ambient, modulating guitar set between big riffs and well thought-through leads under her strong vocals.
Elevators by Wyldhaven
Imagine a gentle, unobtrusive Daft Punk. Imagine if dance music hadn’t been abducted by morons. That is the sound of multi-instrumentalist and producer Wyldhaven.
Released early in December, Elevators combines intriguing samples with lofi, almost acid-jazz chords and traditional dance rhythms. The result is that you end up dancing to something you wouldn’t expect to.
Follow the band on Twitter
Oops by Little Brother Eli
Oxford disco-rockers Little Brother Eli are an interesting concoction. A modern indie-rock ensemble, utilising abrasive synths and electronic production elements.
Oops showcases the band’s diverse influences sequentially: a pop-rock verse; pre-wubstep pre-chorus; a catchy, 1975-esque chorus; and electronic disco bridge that reminds us of Vulfpeck. A band to watch, for sure.
Vanilla by Owain Felstead
Young, evidently passionate Welsh singer-songwriter Owain Felstead combines contemporary boy-band influences in a way that’s much less vacuous than his contemporaries, (that’s a good thing)
In addition to being an able songwriter and vocalist, Owain displays his beat-making & production prowess in Vanilla. The track includes solid, dance-able rhythms with intriguing sample-mangling.
Mystery Girl by The Rewind
An up-and-coming rock band, The Rewind promising an authentic rock-and-roll experiences. Although that conjures images of codpieces and 5-necked guitars, we hope they’re a tad more self-aware.
For fans of Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and Peter Frampton, Mystery Girl demonstrates vocalist Josh Decker’s respectable range on top of a respectably solid backing track.
Find more on the band’s website
Blanket Review by Mickey Nicholas. Hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire, shiny new four-piece blanket emerge into the purview of the musically inclined with their new LP Our Brief Encounters.
Ambient, atmospheric, weird. All these can tidily sum-up the five-track LP, and can tidily sum up each track. It would be wise not to interpret this as meaning it’s a bad LP, far from it. It’s a marvellously organic-feeling attempt at a kind of post-rock interpretation.
There’s a sense of scale, something big and grand underpinned by themes of human intimacy running through Our Brief Encounters. The whole thing feels like it’s trying to tell a story about human interaction in the form of a film soundtrack, if the whole film was the soundtrack.
Like all stories, you have to set the scene- establish the general tone of the narrative. The first song on the LP, Acacia, does exactly this- an atmospheric intro intertwined with a little piano, which forms the heart of the whole track as haunting guitar echoes over the top, gradually building, layering sounds onto each other into a coalescing crescendo, before delicately falling away, piece by piece.
The second song, Tethered, starts with ambient sounds that rise and fall, layered with gentle guitar and a section of dialogue taken from the 2003 Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation. It took me a little while to figure out where I knew it from, but the interaction between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters kind of sums up what the whole film is about. The guitars build and sweep, the drums filling the background like a heartbeat.
Track three, Discoveries and Beginnings, opens with male and female vocals in harmony, cutting quickly to soft guitar that grows to fill the whole song, the same hook repeating, a little faster, a little louder. It’s the kind of song you’d expect to be included in a documentary about the environment as seen from space.
Starlight Filled Our Minds has it’s own music video, (below)! It starts big, vocals and guitars harmonising into a multi-layered choral sound. Gradually, gentle vocals come in, and the guitars rise up and fall away into a powerful piano hook. The whole song explodes around the three minute mark, every component crashing together harmoniously before the guitar steps up to the front to lead almost until the end of the song, before suddenly cutting away back to the starting harmonies, book-ending the track.
To the Skies comes in bright and loud with echoed piano and upbeat drums flashing in like sunlight through clouds. A guitar hook slips in, simple but effective, slowing the tempo a touch before picking it back up again with the drums in tow. The instruments slip away, the vocals come in, and the song layers up again into a grand sweep of sound, heavy guitar over soft piano and crashing drums rising and falling like waves.
blanket's debut album, Our Brief Encounters, is released on February 10th and is available for pre-order right now.
LINKS & THAT
Blunderbuster Review by Mickey Nicholas. I’ve never been one to actively seek out folk music and it’s modern iterations. It’s not an active dislike of folk, but more of a passive disinclination. When I was younger, I always thought the only people who liked folk music to any degree were those kinds of people who talk about pre-industrial society as if it was infallibly better than nowadays. It was only better if you happened to enjoy hot and cold running typhoid, with free tapeworms for every subscriber.
However, as I’ve grown older and hopefully, wiser, I have taken some time out of my usual musical schedule to actually listen to folk-esque material, and I’m not as unimpressed with it as I expected. Most recently, I have been impressed by Staffordshire / Derbyshire quintet, Blunderbuster and their new album The Legend of Hywel Evans. The eight-track album constitutes folk-punk at it’s finest- earnest, loud and full of character. The singing across the board is enthusiastic, powerful and unique in it’s style, variations in pitch and tone give a rawer vibe to the music. I’m a big lover of violins and being a folk album I’d have been disappointed if the fiddling wasn’t up to par, but I wasn’t. The same can be said of all the band-members, who show a fervent proficiency in their selected instruments. You can hear the love that went into the playing.
The first song is Raggle Taggle, a steady intro into high energy story-telling. A good strong start out the gates for the album. It’s the kind of song that gets people stamping their feet and wondering if they should take up cider-fancying as a hobby.
The next song I’ll highlight opens with an accordion, and various sea sounds to build atmosphere, because it wouldn’t be a folk album without a fun pirate-themed song. It’s called Black Bart and it’s an interesting mix of paces and energies, moving between slower and softer traditional style instrumentals to fast punkier segments with explosive vocals.
Hywel’s Song is the heart of the whole album. It’s in this song you can really get to grips with the influences of the band, and the singer really flaunts his voice. It’s got a kind of Frank Turner kind of feel to it, with acoustic guitar, but there’s also a Dropkick glaze over the top. It’s a fun song.
The last one I’ll write about is the band’s own take on a traditional drinking song, Wild Rover. Kind of adopted by the Irish and the Scottish as a drinking song. Which it definitely is. It’s a fun way to end the album.
Links & That
Review by Joey StoateCheck out Joey's wicked blog over here.
Derby-based band Whitemoor’s third album is ambitious, thought provoking and well written. However, whilst there’s a strong selection of stand out tracks here, the album unfortunately feels the need to pad out its slightly too long running time with underwhelming, generic indie-pop. To use an incredibly annoying phrase, Pause And Effect is an album of two halves.
The album starts incredibly strong, with epic opener Hollywood striking all the right chords with it’s spacey guitar tone and vocal lines, even if the track outstays it’s welcome ever so slightly, it’s a great song and it’s length doesn’t do anything to detract from it’s quality. Lead single, A Cage For The Animals is yet another fantastic song, with infectious choruses and an incredibly memorable vocal line, the song could happily sit alongside anything on Radio 1 today, production aside. Dark Sparks has single written all over it, with an effectively funky bassline permeating reverberated guitars and vocals.
Be The Last starts with a promising intro, with an interesting almost gallop like feel to the percussion leading us into an intriguing first verse. Granted, the track would benefit hugely from another guitar line and bigger production, but the song carries on at a good pace, with a superb middle eight rounding off another strong piece. However, if there’s one piece of criticism for the track, the jarring full band stop before the first chorus is horrible, and can really throw the listener, almost to a point where it really wrecks the experience. It might work in a live environment, but not here.
The haunting Codes is another interesting song, proving to be both eerie and upbeat in feel, and really giving off the vibe of an unofficial title track. The band’s experiments with melodies really pay off here, achieving a sound that is both calm and claustrophobic. Unfortunately, here is where we reach the more problematic portion of the album. Whilst Ghosts certainly isn’t a bad track, it sadly highlights the album’s more generic qualities, especially in songs such as Only Human and God Help The Queen, both seeming unremarkable and frankly a bit dull.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. She Makes Me Fly proves to be one of the album’s best tracks, with it’s prominent use of keys really injecting a new life into proceedings, and Masquerade picks things up once again as a fun, more energetic track with memorable synth lines and a stronger hint of aggression. The album creeps to a close with the album’s best slow track, the quiet, thoughtful closer Until Tomorrow.
In summary, the album is a good effort from a band with a lot of potential that’s yet to be fully grasped. Several strong tracks, and a few pretty weak songs turn this album into a real mixed bag. Whitemoor, you could be great. Just take the catchy melodies of She Makes Me Fly and Hollywood and run with it!