Friday, 22 May 2020

LISTEN: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'Another World'

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S. Lewis.

I was about to open this post by remarking that, upon listening to this EP for the first time, I considered Pêtr Aleksänder to be truly, well, something else. Then I realised that the opening track is called The Something Else and that my brain was probably being led down that path, but the point still stands. This is a sublime piece of work. Consistently overwhelmed by these guys.

The Another World EP is their first release since their 2019 record Closer, Still but they have certainly been busy elsewhere. While Tom is busy playing live with Mumford & Sons and Gang of Youths, Eliot has produced the Banfi record (out today!) and they've been continuing their run of 'reimagined' tracks, which they've worked on in the past for the likes of Banfi, Geowulf and Interpol. Not content with reimagining a track, this time, they've released an entire record. Clouds In The Mirror, released a couple of weeks ago, is a reimagined version of This Is Not A Safe Place by Oxford's RIDE. And magnificent it is too.

The new EP features previously released singles The Something Else, a true to form instrumental piece of art which eases you in with piano, strings and electronics, and Copy, Echo, Mirage. The latter was the first track from the duo to feature vocals from Tom Hobden, which is a treat. It's a pulsing and powerful track, drawing you in further, before the strings at the tail end of The Real Thing really push you, mind and soul, over the edge. If you're me, at least. I adore strings. On this and closing (and title) track Another World, words from a passage of the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity sit atop the beautifully unique sound that the pair have created.

Follow Pêtr AleksänderTwitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | Instagram.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

WATCH: Jeremy Tuplin - 'Space Magic'

Loving this! New from Jeremy Tuplin, Space Magic creeps up on you with its chilled out (psychedelic, even?) vibes before blowing your socks off with some wild guitar solo action. It's light and dreamy on the surface but listen closer and it's an intricate wonder and has me transported somewhere.... well, magical. 

Space Magic, Jeremy explains, "is about finding the fascinating in the everyday. I guess I use the term 'magic' loosely in a scientific way, and mostly focus on the very grandiose 'Space Magic', but through nature and anything from planet formation to the human mind, your neighbour's overhanging wild rose or that piece of toast you're eating for breakfast, it's all pretty magical." 

The track is the first from Jeremy's upcoming record Violet Waves, the follow-up to last year's Pink Mirror. The record is a collection of twelve tracks exploring "love, the ensuing apocalypse of our habitat and all that exists beyond" - quite a narrow subject matter then, right? 

Follow Jeremy Tuplin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Stornoway - 'The Farewell Show'

Last week saw the announcement of a live album to get excited about. To help celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their debut record Beachcomber's Windowsill this month, Stornoway are releasing The Farewell Show - recorded live at the final show of their 2017 farewell tour at Oxford's New Theatre. Being somewhat in the know (shh!) I've known about the record for a little while, and had a copy sent across a few months back. On the first opportunity I had to listen, I cried through most of it, and loved every second.

As the band wrote in an online statement "whether you missed out on this show, or were one of the lucky few who joined us on the night [...] we've handpicked a track-list that reimagines the night from soundcheck through to stage invasion." It's a beautiful combination of tracks from all three records, and captures the band's fun and energetic side alongside the quieter, unplugged tracks - really impressive in an 1800 capacity venue. The album was recorded and mixed by Oli Jacobs from the world-renowned Real World Studios, there on the night to capture the tracks and atmosphere.

The first taste of the record is Fuel Up - with the band sharing that "we hope its message will provide some comfort during this strange time." It's a stunning track, and a gorgeous performance, and a hint at the end to some of those unplugged tracks... which you'll have to wait a little longer for. (Worth the wait!)

The live album is a really special release for me. While I wasn't aware of the band from the start, I met the bassist Oli Steadman through the Oxford music scene shortly after moving there to study. I discovered the band and just how much love there was for them locally was made obvious as I squeezed into the doorway of Truck Store to 'watch' their live set for Record Store Day, shortly after Bonxie had been released. Later that year, I took photos of them playing an 'unplucked' show in a local church, and again, the love in the room was palpable.

While studying, I started to work with Oli and the band's trumpet extraordinaire Tom Hodgson (both of whom I love massively, lovely humans) at Tigmus, running things online and at shows in Oxford, and one of the major highs was us promoting this Stornoway show. In my review at the time, I wrote that "I was incredibly lucky to get to be at the venue from the afternoon, sorting out guest lists, meeting the rest of the band, watching them soundcheck from the stage and hanging around backstage. It's worth pointing out that the entire band and crew are some of the kindest, friendliest people I've had the pleasure of meeting [...] once the performance finished I witnessed the moments after the band came off stage into the green room. Emotions (and champagne) were flowing and it was such a beautiful moment to share with the band."

The Farewell Show is set for release via Cooking Vinyl on July 17th - pre-order a download copy or CD (with signed setlist) here.

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: JONES - 'Giving It Up'

Rewind to late 2016, when I was spending most of my university life at gigs, I caught JONES twice supporting Jack Savoretti in Southampton and London. I was struck by her impressive vocals in the live setting, and enjoyed her debut album New Skin which had just been released. Three and a half years later, she's back with the first taste of new music (with more to come across the next few months) in the shape of certified pop anthem Giving It Up.

Recorded with Mike Spencer (Rudimental, Zara Larsson) and artist/producer Fyfe (whose own debut Control soundtracked some of my time at university after I saw him performing at a Communion showcase), the track is a feel good pop tune, with JONES' vocals oozing effortlessness and confidence as always. She explains that the track "is a chocolate addiction confessional turned audio diary entry about a story where I found love in a very unexpected person... it also feels like the start of summer." Perfect listening for lounging in your garden.

The video, directed by the Bosnian-Canadian filmmaker and musician Nina Ljeti and edited by Vern Moen, places shots of JONES looking stylish as ever on a beachfront location among shots that a nature documentary would envy. Escape into it for 3 and a half minutes...

Follow JONES - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

LISTEN: Lucy Rose - 'White Car' & 'Question It All'

New music from Lucy Rose is always a reason to celebrate and she's just shared two brand new tracks, hooray!! Question It All and White Car arrive as stand-alone tracks, the first new music since the 2019 record No Words Left, which was a highlight of the year for me, musically. While the record was sonically a very delicate release, focusing on Lucy's vocals, guitar, piano and strings, the new tracks have... drums! And for the first time, Lucy played them herself - seen in the video for Question It All (more on that later...)

Having recorded both tracks in late 2019, Lucy describes that "at the time something didn't feel quite right about releasing them [...] I worried that because the songs lyrically didn't spell out exactly how I was feeling; they were more vague, almost disguising my feelings, that meant they weren't good. I was in an intense period of time musically singing the songs from the last album that sort of punched me in the stomach when I heard and played them and these two songs didn't make me feel the same."

Wanting to help fans in the current situation, but not wanting to add personal pressure and stress with a live stream, the release of the tracks is a perfect compromise. Lucy explains "I revisited these two new songs and I heard them in a completely different way [...] the abstract quality of the music really helped me escape my own thoughts and I enjoyed them as pieces of music [...] it's almost like a whole different meaning came to life." 

Question It All arrives with a lovely video collage with footage of Lucy's fans around the world - a really heartwarming look into the activities that are getting people through lockdown, and I think a nice reminder that wherever we are, we're far more similar and connected than we're sometimes led to believe. 

Lucy explains that "I thought that it would be good to pair the song with something that was uplifting in this strange time and hopefully made some people happy. I put out a post asking my fans to send me a video of something that is helping them through this time and bring them joy. Every video I have received has made me smile so much, they are so heart-warming and together have made a video that’s really meaningful to me. Making it has brought me a lot of happiness and I hope for those who are in it and watch it feel the same too.”

Follow Lucy Rose - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 18 May 2020

WATCH: Flyte - 'Easy Tiger'

If you've been tuning into frontman Will's online streams (or were lucky to see them on tour last year) then you might already know the track Easy Tiger, which Flyte have just released. It's a really emotionally fraught, honest and personal track from one of the best songwriters out there at the moment, arriving in response to a painful break-up. The track started life as a 20-minute voice-note that Will recorded for himself to "buckle up and get ready for a really shit time" and was recorded over a few days in LA with producer Justin Raisen and mixed by Ali Chant

The music video for the track was directed by BAFTA-winning British director Mark Jenkin of Bullion Productions. Will explains that "when I wrote Easy Tiger I was exorcising shame, heartbreak, jealousy; almost impossible emotions to process, I almost regretted writing it. There's a darkness and an emotional brashness to Mark's work that suited the song perfectly. It would have been hard to trust anyone else with it." They worked on the video during quarantine, with Mark's use of hand-process and physically edited film working perfectly amid the current limitations on film making. 

Mark describes that "the challenge was to make something that felt amorphous - to create something that has a tactile feel to it, is a single artefact, something that feels like a found film and something that is timeless, abstract and unidentifiable in some ways."  

If you like the new track - be sure to head to the Flyte Youtube channel. While touring the US with Jade Bird last year, they hatched a plan to cover an artist from each gig location. Their cover of Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes) is heavenly. 

Follow Flyte - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday, 15 May 2020

WATCH: White Tail Falls - Fake News (#5YearsOfCMAT)

It's been a bit of a crazy (but good) week.... since my post about the blog turning five, the love has been pouring in. Blogging can be quite solitary, as I sit typing away at posts about the music I love, unsure if anybody will actually read them (and I think, importantly, not really minding if they don't) so to have so much love reflected back at the blog - and by extension, my writing - is the best kind of overwhelming.

Since sharing the idea I'd had to share session style home-recorded videos from some of the blog's favourite artists a week ago, I've shared the first three videos from MF TomlinsonChristof van der Ven and China Bears on YouTube. All three are superb - watch them!! You can check out the channel and subscribe here.

Some of that love for the blog has come from Irwin Sparkes, an artist that I admire, one of my absolute favourite musical beings. About to surely blow the world away with his debut solo album, Age Of Entitlement, due out two weeks today (!!) under the moniker White Tail Falls, you might know Irwin from a couple of other bands... The Sea & I and The Hoosiers. (Me? I've never heard of them.) Between those projects, he's the artist I've seen live on stage most, and has given me so much music to enjoy over the years. When I asked if he wanted to be involved, he agreed (needing very little persuasion) and somehow found time amidst album promotion, a busy streaming schedule and baby raising duties. He's been genuinely supportive of the blog since the beginning and that - and this video - means more than I can properly express here without becoming *too* soppy.

Without more rambling.... here's the video:

The White Tail Falls track that he's performing here is Fake News, from the upcoming record. In his words it "was written about four years ago and was inspired by shock and awe at how people draw their conclusions; betting the farm on such little evidence. All the while I'm reminded of how cripplingly indecisive I can be." It's on the Fake News EP which you can listen to here.

The upcoming record is hugely personal and the process of creating it acted as a kind of complimentary therapy for Irwin, and I can't wait to hear it in full. He shared a long social media post/open letter about the record and the process recently which is worth a read.

You can (and most certainly should) pre-order the record here in all its clear vinyl, CD and download glory. There's also some copies on Rough Trade

I've been sharing the videos as I'd wanted to organise a gig to celebrate the blog's birthday. I was moved by seeing lots of grassroots venues campaigning for help on the back of the Music Venue Trust #SaveOurVenues campaign. With a barely existent local musical scene in my hometown, I've 'adopted' OMEARA and shown them some love, and I'm encouraging people to do the same, to OMEARA or their own local venue, if they're asking for support.

P.S. As I wrote this post, the blog has just passed 150000 all-time page views, which is another very crazy thing. Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!  

Follow White Tail Falls - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Moscow Apartment - 'Halfway'

This is really wholesome. Excited to share a new track from the Canadian duo Moscow Apartment, who I featured way back in November 2018 with their single Orange. Mostly I was overwhelmed at how talented Bridghid and Pascale were, at just 15 and 16. Now 17 and 18, and just as talented (more?) they're sharing Halfway, produced with Guillermo Subauste and mixed by Scotty Hard

The track is quite a grown-up response to a teenage falling out between the pair, who are both best friends and a musical partnership. They explain that "our deep friendship developed as the band formed, so there were some growing pains in the first year as we figured out how to process stress, anxiety and disagreements. One day we had a big fight and Pascale wrote the beginning of our new single, as a way to ask Brighid for forgiveness. Brighid wrote the second verse and worked on the chorus, giving birth to this song." 

They go on to explain that while the situation seemed hopeless, with the added stress of needing time apart while needing to work together musically, they were "given the opportunity to play a walk-on role in Stars' play, Together, and see the intensity and deep love that a band who've been together for two decades has [...] we had to remember that we really care about each other and have each other's best interests at heart." 

The duo will be releasing more music from the upcoming Better Daughter EP soon.

Follow Moscow Apartment - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

WATCH: AURORA - 'Exist For Love'

Occasionally, and increasingly so at the moment (a good sign I think) I get moments of imposter syndrome via the blog. I keep finding unreleased tracks and videos from some fairly well loved artists, and the idea of getting to listen to them before the majority of people is a little overwhelming... so, with over a million followers online between her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts you could say that AURORA fits the bill there. I found her brand new track and video Exist For Love in my inbox yesterday and was blown away a little. Having started the year on the Oscars stage performing her hit Into the Unknown from Frozen and now being cocooned in isolation she is back, opening the third 'chapter' of her music with her first ever long song.

In a self-directed video (which is aesthetically gorgeous) we see AURORA undergoing an awakening, blossoming into a woman touched by love. She explains that "I thought I didn't have a love song within me, until one day a few years ago, when I realised what a heavenly thing love is. Yes, it makes us human, but it also makes us divine. What you're using that love for. Or who. The touch of it will leave a print in us. It may be newborn love, it might be grief. But still we dare to love. Again and again. And when we get to experience that love, I think we understand why we exist. We exist for love." 

Also worth mentioning... my interest in the track was initially very much peaked in finding out that on the track, AURORA's dreamy vocals sit atop a string arrangement from award winning composer Isobel Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Emma). Iso is a legend and the track is stunning. Having collaborated on the track in isolation, Aurora writes that "Isobel understood and respected the spirit of the song. I'm very grateful to have her as another mother to the project." 

Follow AURORA - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

WATCH: Cj Pandit - 'Talk Talk Talk!'

I fell a little in love with Digital Love from Cj Pandit a couple of months back. It's more relevant than ever now and I'm not entirely over the lyric "I'm an 8-bit version of myself." Properly genius that. I'm delighted that he's back with a brand new track and a perfectly simple but effective video (complete with dancing!) Talk Talk Talk! has been stuck in my head constantly for days and I've headed towards it every time I've opened Spotify recently. Really digging this one.

Talking about the track, he explains that "it's me trying to understand what it means to feel alone in a group of people, when everything gets a little overwhelming, and the idea that it's ok to just disappear into the night. Also it's got a big piano solo that I'd hope Bruce Hornsby would be proud of." 

Follow Cj Pandit - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 11 May 2020

INTERVIEW: Hailaker (May 2020)

Over the moon to be sharing this!! The lovely Hailaker shared their second record Holding a couple of weeks back via Lowswimmer, the somewhat surprise (but a very welcome surprise) follow-up to the self-titled record they released last year. They're one of my favourite discoveries of the last couple of years and very kindly agreed to answer some questions about the project and album for me. The results of an email chat with Jemima are below... happy reading!

Also: you should most definitely get the new album (and the debut) via Bandcamp here.

Hello! Before we go on, for those who are new to the project (and have lots of exciting music to discover, once they’ve finished reading this interview) we should introduce you! Who exactly are Hailaker? Or perhaps more accurately, what is Hailaker? 

Hailaker is a project that makes music! We’re mostly Ed Tullett and Jemima Coulter, but sometimes Ali Lacey and Dave Huntriss too... and also whoever we can get our hands on to play instruments and sing backing vocals. All our artwork is done by Mike Roth who lives in Portland, he’s been with us since the beginning so he’s an important part of the project as well.

Where do we find you isolating? And (most important question of all, I think) do you have any pets with you? Definitely not asking that because I haven’t got any pets and have to settle for staring longingly at my neighbours' dogs over the garden fence… 

I’m (Jemima) in Bristol and Ed’s in Cardiff. Nope no pets... yet - I think we’re getting a cat next week? And there’s slugs eating the lettuces- don’t forget the little guys!

After first hearing some of your music playing in between sets at a Novo Amor show towards the end of 2018, Hailaker was one of my favourite discoveries of 2019 and the self-titled album firmly earned itself a spot in my albums of the year list. How have you found the response to the record, and how was getting to play some shows for it? 

Everyone’s said really lovely things about it! I’ve been blown away by people and their messages on Instagram. I don’t really know how it compares to what happens when anyone else releases music, but I guess that’s not the point. It’s been amazing. The shows were great! I think we were a bit unsure about how it would translate live (especially with all the ‘bits’ in the first record) but it really worked, was great to play to people, who nearly all hadn’t heard our music before, great to spend loads of time in the car together, of course. Kind of dreamy to play with American Football as well, made us very excited for the future and hopefully playing bigger venues.

The reason we’re here (on the internet, where we all live now) is that you’ve just, with only a couple of weeks warning, released your second album Holding into the world. Was the release planned for now or an isolation treat for fans? It’s certainly a huge treat either way! 

It was planned for now! It just so happened that isolation kicked in a month before.

In press for the first record, you described it as “the narrative of mine and Ed’s friendship first and foremost, since it meant we went from being strangers to spending weeks writing together.” Where does the new record find you, in the narrative of the project, and thematically? 

That’s a good question. I think it found us (we started writing these songs end of 2017 ? ) wanting to explore songwriting… writing real songy-songs, that you could pretty much just sing into the air and they’d hold their own. That was what we were interested in doing. Thematically its a bit more earthy than the previous record, we talk about things that are a bit more tangible and that was exciting for us as well, finding a new lyrical voice I guess. And we talk about people moving away and apart, finding places to live, feeling mediocre compared to friends... for me it almost systematically goes through all of the things that you encounter when you fall out of education/structure and suddenly realise that you’re supposed to be an adult but don’t really know how, so you just look around you to see what everyone else is doing and hope that no one notices that you’re very much out of your depth.

Yours is a largely collaborative project and one that is free from self-imposed restrictions on genre and style, and I love that. With that in mind, what is the creative process like on a Hailaker record? Where did Holding come into being? 

We started writing it a few months after we’d finished the writing for Hailaker but I think we were still producing and mixing it. We’d write ideas when we were together and needing a break from finishing the first record. Then we took all these ideas to a little house in Swanage and wrote lyrics and some more songs and hung out. And then in September 2018 we went and stayed at Ali’s for 3 weeks and recorded everything. So that’s really where Holding came into being.

I think because we don’t feel too concerned about being consistent, at least not over albums anyway, we just write with the ideas that we have at the time. If it’s an idea that we both like but we don’t feel like it fits with what we’re working on at the moment, we put it away and say ‘oh maybe this can be for the third record, or for that pop EP that we might do, or that minimalist piano project that we were talking about’. But I think it’s important to say that Ed and I are both pretty particular about stuff, if one of us doesn’t like something then it’s unlikely we’ll back down until it’s changed, so that’s really where the honing in of ideas comes. Finding ideas that we both really really like is when we know that we’ve got something good.

Were there any particular influences - musical or otherwise on this record? 

Not intentionally I don’t think… we both love the band Pinegrove and their sound had a big impact, but also the song By the Time was kind of modelled on the sound of the The Beach Boys, so a whole mix. We were just thinking about how to make something that could be played as a four-piece band. 

Finally… aside from the gorgeous new ambient tunes from your touring pal Gia Margaret, what is in your headphones at the moment? Anything new and exciting that you’re listening to, or old favourites that are getting you through? 

Ah Gia’s ambient stuff is so so good! For me it’s mostly podcasts at the moment, I’m not very good at listening to music when I’m working on music. But if I do - Great Grandpa’s album Four of Arrows is great, Squirrel Flower always and Happyness. There’s this website called Radio Garden where you can tune into radio all over the world, which I recommend if you feel like a switch up.

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Saturday, 9 May 2020

WATCH: The Academic - 'Anything Could Happen'

This one has been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks now (blog perks) and I'm really excited that it's finally out in the world! Scoring a last minute premiere on BBC Radio 1 from Annie Mac a couple of nights ago, the track is Anything Could Happen from The Academic. They've shared a video for the track expertly directed by Hope Kemp and Ronan Corrigan - with the lockdown putting a spanner in the works of a self-proclaimed 'really fancy' music video, they turned to fans (specifically couples) in lockdown across the globe, together and apart, and the result is overwhelmingly cute.

The indie four-piece have already made a huge impact in their home country of Ireland, scoring a Number 1 album over there with Tales From The Backseat. Not content with riding the airwaves at home, they're beginning to really make an impression further afield, appeasing an ever present desire for good guitar music, which finds itself somewhere between inspirations Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes and Vampire Weekend. A sold out Scala show under their belts, they've got Electric Ballroom pencilled in just as soon as they can play it. The impression I get is that, locally, there's a real buzz and excitement around the band, the pride that a homegrown group are on the verge of exploding into the mainstream elsewhere. Deservedly so.

Talking of blog perks, I've just snuck a listen to the next track from the upcoming EP and it's pretty good... you'll want to keep track of these guys.

Follow The Academic - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Five years of cool music and things...

Five years!

This little blog of mine has existed for five years today. I'd hoped to arrange a gig or something to come together to celebrate but the world had other ideas. A birthday in lockdown wasn't quite what I had in mind for the blog but I'm trying to make the best of it. If you don't have time to read this whole post (more rambling from me... surely not?!) the short version is that if you've read anything that I've written over the years, or listened to any of my recommendations, you're great and you've got my endless gratitude. I've honestly surprised myself sticking at it for this long, I sort of fell into blogging accidentally and I still don't entirely believe that all of the page views aren't somehow spambots.

So if you're a real person and you really read the blog: thanks!

If you're a spambot, welcome, and thanks: you make my view count look great!

(Skip to the end for an exciting thing...!)

I should probably first explain... if you're reading this and you glance across to the post archive, you might notice that there are posts dating back to late 2012.

The blog is kind of like royalty with two birthdays. Back then, a very basic version of the site you're on today existed over on Tumblr. I had a personal Tumblr account (for sharing Doctor Who and Sherlock content, mostly) and made a page where I could share music that I enjoyed. I'd realised I was getting a kick out of recommending music to my school friends, and was spending a lot of time online - it made sense to combine the two! I think the URL on Tumblr cycled through some song lyrics and something like 'just good tunes' before I settled on coolmusicandthings. I'm not sure if somebody suggested it, of if I (very unimaginatively) came up with it. And I'm not entirely sure what the 'things' are, still. I've often thought about rebranding and renaming the blog over the years but every time I do, I've found that I can't bring myself to. Most music blog names don't make complete sense, right? And I'd started to build an identity and community around the name and it didn't feel worth the hassle of changing it.

With my Tumblr page, I'm pretty sure that I felt like I was the absolute zenith of music news. In reality, I was just sharing new music videos and sessions from the artists that I loved and there was very little writing involved. The music did the talking. But I'd started something, and started myself along the path of becoming... less a music reviewer, more a professional music fan. And sometime fangirl.

Towards the end of my first year at university in Oxford, just a few weeks after the inimitable Noah and the Whale had announced that they were parting ways, I took myself to see a show in Camden headlined by Matt Owens and the Delusional Vanity Project, Matt being the bassist of NATW. It was essentially a club night, their set was quite late and it was really rowdy, and I was out of my depth. Having only ever seen NATW playing a support set in an arena I was suddenly a few metres from three members of the band, as Tom Hobden and Michael Petulla, the band's violinist and drummer, were part of Matt's band. Being quite a relaxed show I found the opportunity to introduce myself to the guys outside. Getting a little caught up in the moment, I casually informed Matt that I had a music blog and he handed me a copy of his solo album to review.

In the film adaptation of the history of the blog, this is the point where time would stop and the narrator points out that this was the precise moment that kickstarted me into turning the blog into the site that it is today. I remember very vividly deciding that if people might be interested in my writing, I should make a go of it. So the next day in my flat in Oxford, I started plotting a relaunch of the blog. Maybe I was in it for the free CDs.

I spent a few days setting up my account on Blogger, which I'd used a little in the past for school projects, designed a layout and purchased a URL so that I might seem a little bit professional. I decided to copy across all of my existing posts (about 100) from Tumblr and backdated them all (hence the posts going back to 2012 on this site). The older posts aren't great, but they were part of the story, where it had all started, and it was a little less daunting then starting entirely from scratch.

Once the site was ready, I headed to my Facebook page on 7th May 2015 and announced... 

EXCITING NEWS! I've decided to relaunch my music blog 'cool music and things' over on blogger (bought a domain and everything).
I originally set up the blog a couple of years ago as I found myself constantly recommending music to everyone I know and it allowed me to do this on a bigger scale. I've moved across most of the old posts, and will be trying to update it regularly with recommendations, reviews and the like.  
I really want to make something of this, to grow my audience and mostly to share the music that I love with as many people as I can.
After that first gig, I saw Matt and the other NATW guys at a few small-ish shows for various projects they were working on. They were always super welcoming, letting me hang out with them as I was usually at the shows alone. I probably didn't realise at the time that the blog had essentially been my way in, a foot in the door to hanging out with some of my favourite musicians as if that was something I was completely used to. (It happens more and more and is still crazy.) To have those guys be early 'fans' of the blog and encouraging me to write more was an honour and made me feel like it was something that I should carry on with. They were proper music people, after all.

It took about ten months to reach the first real milestone on the site. Ten thousand page views. I remember that completely blowing my mind. It's such a big number?! A few months later, the page reached twenty thousand. Things were growing. As I write this post, the view count is gradually trickling towards one hundred and fifty thousand. I've come to realise that statistics are probably skewed quite a bit, I'll probably never understand how, but either that or I'm particularly famous in the Middle East. It's still a really big number though, so I'm taking the win.

I set up social media accounts so that I could share the posts once I'd written them, and started to forge a little community around the site. Again, I try not to worry too much about followers and likes (to be honest - most of the likes on the Facebook page are friends who have probably forgotten me begging them to like it in the early days) but it's lovely to have a little patch of the internet where I can talk to likeminded people and ramble about how great music is.

I made an email address for the blog early on so that people could submit music for me to write about. Currently, I get somewhere around 120 submissions a week. I listen to everything (albeit sometimes not for very long) and it's a genuinely a privilege to hear so much new music. Even if it is massively overwhelming most of the time. With just me writing posts and only a handful of posts each week, the majority of submissions don't make it onto the blog - so you've got to conclude that those that do have made it through some tough competition. I've made some really exciting discoveries in that inbox - BE GOOD and Fil Bo Riva are examples of a couple of artists I first found through press releases and completely adore now. The blog remains as much a discovery tool for myself as anything.

It's essentially all an elaborate attempt for me to find new music to listen to, and I've been lucky to have been sent lots of exciting streams over the years of unreleased albums. Sneak previews of albums from Bombay Bicycle Club, Public Service Broadcasting, Jack Savoretti, Geowulf, Benedict Benjamin and lots more. The best perks. Big imposter syndrome kicks in when I get to listen to those. Without doubt, one of the most exciting albums to find its way into my inbox was last February, when the new Bear's Den record arrived around two months before it was due to be released. Usually, an album will sit in my inbox and I'll procrastinate listening and reviewing, but this was different.

The band are a huge favourite of mine, and the album arrived into my inbox when I was going through a difficult time. If you know me personally or followed the blog then, you'll probably know that around that time, I lost a job I loved when the HMV store I worked at closed suddenly. It was a really crap time, suddenly losing the day-to-day companionship of my colleagues and wanting desperately to help them. It felt like a period of grief. I was fighting to get the decision overturned, suddenly finding myself as some kind of spokesperson for my colleagues as I spoke to local news outlets. Music helped, as it so often does. I wasn't writing much on the blog at the time as all my energy was going into applying for jobs and campaigning, but the new Bear's Den album arrived and I listened a lot, and it helped. As much as I wanted to thank the band for that, it was also testament to one of my favourite (shhh!) PR agencies, Stay Loose. Knowing what had happened, Ellie offered me guest list to any of their upcoming shows, knowing how much I loved escaping to gigs.

I don't think I'd ever anticipated making friends through the blog when I first started rambling on Tumblr, but I really have, between all the PR people, artists, labels and fellow music fans. The blog is far cooler than I am and that helps.

Another of the perks of running the blog is getting offered tickets to some pretty cool shows and festivals in exchange for a post rambling about them. The idea of being on the guest list for a show at  the actual Royal Albert Hall a couple of years back (Nick Mulvey - dreamy) is a little bewildering. Getting asked "which publication are you with?" at Citadel Festival last year and having to offer up the name of my little 'publication' will forever go down as a highlight of blogging.

Alright. I've probably rambled far more than enough! Essentially, I consider this blog to be my little corner of the internet where I can attempt to put my English degree to good use and spread the word, and a lot of love, for my favourite artists.

With so many submissions, I've been asked about other people writing for the blog at times - one of my favourite things is when PR emails refer to "the team" or an artist replies to a social media post with "thanks guys!" I like the idea that this seems such a well oiled machine that it must be a group of people. While it would probably help get more content out, I selfishly want to keep hold of the blog. With every bit of content being written by me, I've got the freedom to make everything personal. Posts will usually reference where I discovered the artists or a gig that I've seen them at. I like to think that its a kind of USP, a bit of personality shining through the writing. The blog essentially reads as a stream of consciousness thread about my favourite music. It's basically my diary.

Aaaaaand. Thing incoming! Before all of this, as I mentioned above, I'd started dreaming up a gig to celebrate the blog's birthday. I'd pretty much already been to the gig in my head... some of my favourite artists in one of my favourite venues, raising money for charity. Obviously those plans were scuppered but I'm still hopeful that after all of this is over I might get to organise something. CMAT club nights, anybody... watch this space? But for now! If you're on Youtube, you probably want to subscribe to this channel

It's still a slight work in progress as most of this is new to me, but I decided that I still wanted to do something to celebrate the blog's anniversary and to bring together some of the artists that I love - and blog about - most. A few of my favourite musicians kindly agreed to help (all wildly overwhelming if I'm honest) and over the next week or two (or more, like I said - work in progress) I'll be uploading exclusive content to the channel, mostly in the form of home recordings. I'll be uploading the first video later today - it's superb and I'm really excited to share it with you!

In exchange for the videos, it would mean the world if I could draw your attention and your support to the #SaveOurVenues campaign from the Music Venue Trust. Without sufficient support, hundreds of grassroots venues in the UK, many of which already faced pressures before the pandemic, face the risk of never re-opening. The MVT has set up a nationwide campaign offering support to these venues. Look to your local venues (MVT has a handy map on their site) and offer them a helping hand if you can.

Personally, I'm pinning all the love and support I can muster (and asking for you to do the same, if you can) onto Omeara. Opening in 2016, it's a reasonably new venue, part of a lovely community in London Bridge with adjoining eateries and a gallery area adjacent to the gig space. It's quickly become one of my favourite places to see live music, a really gorgeous room which is intimate without feeling too small. It's hosted debut London shows from the likes of Maggie Rogers, Dermot Kennedy and Sam Fender.

Founder Ben Lovett (keyboardist of Mumford & Sons and co-founder of the Communion Music label - which I sometimes feel like this blog is essentially a fan blog for as I adore so much of their output) says on their fundraising page:

Your donations will be used to help us take care of people. For us, people are everything - it's people on the stage singing their hearts out, it's people in the pit singing back to them, it's people at the door keeping you safe and it's people behind the bar keeping you refreshed. We are grateful for the support from the government but the current schemes are contributive rather than wholesale in their support and we are burning through cash reserves at an alarming rate. 
Depending on when we can reopen, currently slated as June, and whether we can prevent the closure of our venue, everything above the amount we need will be donated to the Music Venue Trust GMV Crisis Fund to protect other venues just like ours, right across the country. There will be no surplus or profit retained by Omeara and we believe in supporting all venues as much as we possibly can. It's more people looking after people hoping to give people an amazing experience again one day. 
We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support.

You can support OMEARA here and it'll mean the world to me if you do. Consider it your birthday gift to the blog.

Check out the Music Venue Trust site here to view their main fundraiser and find a venue local to you - I'd love it if you let me know on Twitter if you donate to a venue!

Well: here's to 5 more years of blogging!!

Thanks a million for all the support. Means the world.

Meg x

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Gia Margaret - 'Mia Gargaret'

Album news today (well, it's over a week old but who is counting!) from Chicago singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Gia Margaret. She released her stunning debut record There's Always Glimmer back in 2018, earning herself a loyal following in the process. Touring around the world, a couple of tracks with Novo Amor and a couple of years later, she's back with the follow-up. It's not quite what you might expect. Mia Gargaret (isn't that a brill name?!) is due on June 12th, and is the result of Gia finding herself suddenly without the use of her primary instrument, her voice.

She explains that "after having to cancel tours because of illness, I was unable to sing for nearly half of the year. This left me feeling like a shell of myself, so I turned to my synthesiser for comfort. These compositions helped me hold onto my identity as a music maker. At times this music helped soothe my anxiety more than therapy or anything else could." The resulting tracks are a really timely reminder to find a bit of light in the darkness, of the healing power of music - and first listens apathy and body are superb. As you might notice when listening, apathy includes an excerpt from Gia's actual vocal therapy exercises, while body samples a lecture from Alan Watts, the British philosopher. 

Follow Gia Margaret - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

LISTEN: Anna Leone - 'Wondering'

Tuesday treats for you in the form of the first new music from Anna Leone since her gorgeous debut EP Wandered Away. I caught Anna opening for Novo Amor a few months after it was released in 2018 and was a little blown away. New track Wondering is produced by Paul Butler and released via AllPoints/Half Awake. The track follows Anna's recent win at the 2020 Music Moves Talent Awards

Speaking about the track, Anna says "I’ve been going back and forth recently trying to decide whether I should start releasing new songs. My music is very much about isolation and being disconnected, and I’ve been kind of questioning if that‘s the energy I should put out into the world right now. I think ultimately though, the songs are about isolation but they’re also about healing, and I can only hope that that’s what people take away from them. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for a long time and this album is sort of the culmination of all those feelings. I still can’t listen to it all the way through without crying, which is painful but also a good thing, I think. It feels cathartic."

Follow Anna Leone - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

LISTEN: I See Rivers - 'How'

Continuing on the theme of sublime harmonies kicked off by my MICHELLE post yesterday, here's the latest from I See Rivers. The Norwegian (via Liverpool and Pembrokeshire) trio have been a favourite of mine since I saw them supporting Cosmo Sheldrake a couple of years ago - complete with the band selling their freshly knitted and limited edition merch from the stage. I loved the music and their personalities shone through in the performance. With help from PRS Momentum Fund, Music Norway, PRS Women Make Music, BBC Launchpad and a fan campaign on Kickstarter, they've recently finished work on their debut album. How is the fourth single to be taken from the album.

The track uses the legend of Perseus and Andromeda to tell a turbulent love story, with the trio's trademark multi-layered harmonies sitting atop synths to make another brilliant electro-pop track. In their words - "through Andromeda's eyes, the song echoes her deep understanding of her connecting to Perseus and her belief that even through hardships and turmoil, they have always been destined to be together - even after death she and Perseus are to spend the rest of their existence as constellations in the sky. 

"Although drawn from the Greek myth, the deeper and more personal message of the song is about the need to make sense of things whilst battling the fear of losing face and understanding."

The debut album from I See Rivers is due later this year.

Follow I See Rivers - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

WATCH: MICHELLE - 'The Bottom' (Live at Atlantic Records Studio)

There's a couple of record labels that have consistently impressed and excited me with their output, ones which I feel like I'm in really comfortable hands when they announce a new signing. The first is Communion (... of course) and the second, Transgressive. They've worked on albums with the likes of Foals, Cosmo Sheldrake, Johnny Flynn and Gengahr and I am really intrigued by latest signing, New York collective MICHELLE, who fuse R&B, 80s synth pop, jazz and indie into their own unique style. The group are working with Transgressive in the UK and Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records for the rest of the world.

They released their debut album Heatwave last year, but they're a new name to me. The new live video they've just put out of track The Bottom, recorded in February at Atlantic Records Studios, is a gorgeous watch. The harmonies!!! Talking about the track, lyricist and vocalist Emma Lee says that "the song is an ode to the East river. Whispering worries to my mom by the river, mustering up the courage to dive in without fear - diving into what scares me, or into this loyal body of water."

If you're into those harmonies (of course you are) then check out this video from a Sofar Sounds NYC show last year - the stripped back environment makes the vocals even more impressive. I'm very intrigued to see what comes next from this group!

Follow MICHELLE - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Evening Chorus'

It was Earth Day a few days ago, and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new video from Cosmo Sheldrake. The video sees him playing some music (live from an ironing board, naturally) in a bluebell wood in Dorset, recording by Orban Wallace of Galavant Films, who he is luckily in lockdown with. Creative dream team! In the video, he's playing an improvisation using the song of endangered birds - a nightingale, a short eared owl, a tawny owl, a bittern and a cuckoo - at sunset, during the evening chorus. The combination is sublime and I am forever overwhelmed by his work. A true genius and musical magician.

As well as sharing this video, Cosmo also shared a collection of nightingale music, with two wake-up call tracks and a cover of a Tom Waits track, which he sang in the middle of the night next to a nightingale in a nature reserve. Sending out the tracks via email, Cosmo explained that it felt appropriate to release the tracks on Earth day, to "help shed light on the beauty of our natural soundscapes but also their fragility." Nightingales are a famously musical bird and the source of music music and literary adoration historically, but they're endangered, with their population falling in the UK by 93% in the last 50 years. He added that he "also thought it would be nice to share some bird song at a time that many people around the world may not have access to the outdoors or be able to hear bird song for a while."

If you have a spare three hours (or just a few minutes) I implore you to check out the Singing with Nightingales live stream event which took place a few evenings ago courtesy of Sam Lee and The Nest Collective. A bunch of artists joined Sam, via the internet, for live and pre-recorded songs and readings set to the live song of the nightingales, recorded from a wood in Sussex. Cosmo appeared alongside Nick MulveyJohnny FlynnIsobel Waller-BridgeChris Packham, and lots more. You can check the full video here, it's well worth a watch and a listen.

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 27 April 2020

WATCH: Jack Garratt - 'Better'

Time for the perfect Monday tonic... (I originally wrote 'Monday morning' before realising that it was in fact almost 4pm - how did that happen?!) Jack Garratt returned to our lives and our playlists earlier in the year with the world premiere of his first new music in a few years. Time arrived as the lead track to Vol. 1 of his sophomore album Love, Death & Dancing. And it was, and is, a tune. Complete with a music video that gives off big 'dance like nobody is watching' energy. Fast forward a couple of months, and Jack recently shared Vol. 2 of the album.

The lead track of this part is a song called Better which is really (really) brilliant. I can't stop listening! The music video, written and directed by Jack and Tom Clarkson, who directed the Time video, is incredible too. Also on this volume, Get In My Way and Mend A Heart are equally brilliant tunes - I'm really excited for the record. As Jack said in a post online... "there are bangers on this volume. I take zero responsibility for any furniture when you go flipping tables." 

The album Love, Death & Dancing is due on 12th June - pre-order here.

Follow Jack Garratt - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

WATCH: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'Copy, Echo, Mirage'

Exciting new track and video alert from the duo that still hold the title for most viewed post on the blog (fun fact!) Following up their recent single The Something Else, contemporary-classical duo Pêtr Aleksänder (Tom Hobden and Eliot James) are back with the slightly surprising Copy, Echo, Mirage. Both tracks are taken from the upcoming Another World EP which is set for release via Kin Records on May 20th, their first release since the debut album Closer, Still.

I describe the track as surprising because this time around, while they've stayed firmly rooted in the genre they've carved out for themselves, there are vocals! A haunting vocal from Tom sits atop that gorgeous blend of contemporary and classical, with strings and piano creating another soaring, cinematic track. Of the inspiration behind the track, Tom explains that it is about "being enraptured by someone but having the pains of past love never quite letting you stay in the moment. The song's underlying sentiment questions over and over whether this new relationship can go the journey without succumbing to the inevitable pitfalls that everyone faces along the way..." 

Follow Pêtr AleksänderTwitter | Facebook | Instagram.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Dizzy - 'The Sun and Her Scorch’

I've been receiving submissions to the blog for almost five years, and love that I still get excited by emails about my favourite artists. Always a treat! News of a new Dizzy album and an early watch of their new video yesterday? Sign me up. The Canadian four-piece are today sharing news of second album The Sun and Her Scorch, due for release via the dreamboats at Communion Records on July 31st. It features recent single Sunflower alongside The Magician, which is releasing today. 

The new record was recorded at Mechanicland Studios in Quebec and in frontwoman Katie Munshaw's mother's basement, produced by the band themselves and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine.) Talking about the differences between this and the band's debut, Katie explains that it was "all about the confusion and sadness of my late teens [while] this one is more about the qualities of myself that I'm not very proud of. I wanted to be completely honest about the things nobody ever wants to admit, like being jealous of your friends or pushing away the people who love you. So instead of being about romantic heartbreak, it's really about self-heartbreak." Lyrically, it all sounds a little sad, but those reflective and pensive lyrics are always paired with the band's sunny melodies, courtesy of the trio of brothers Alex, Mackenzie and Charlie Spencer - it's what makes the band's music so loveable. 

New track The Magician is also released today, with a video filmed in Katie's childhood bedroom by herself and Charlie during isolation. Pretty impressive, huh? On this track in particular, Katie says that it is a song "about wanting to magically bring a friend of mine who passed away back to life. To me 'The Magician' reeks of naivety and innocence in a way that really hurts my heart. Hoping she'll walk into my gig at the local pub, hoping to see her mom at Sobeys just to remember how similar their laughs were. Hoping for magic. It's a really emotional song for me but is masked by tricky, pretty production to make it sound almost joyful." 

Dizzy play London's Lafayette on November 18th (tickets here) - pre-order the record here.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

LISTEN: MarthaGunn - 'It's Over'

Two exciting pieces of MarthaGunn related news to share today. First up, a brand new (ish, I'm slow to share it) track, called It's Over. I'm really digging this one. Over to frontwoman Abi to tell us about the track... "We might not be able to play shows right now but that's won't stop us releasing music! I felt empowered writing this song. I was bored of writing sad break up songs. This one is a reminder that not every break up has to be sad, sometimes it's the best thing that can happen to you." Listen below!

Secondly - you're free at 6pm tonight, right? Where else would you be? The first week or so of lockdown should've seen the band touring the UK, so Abi took to Instagram to play a track or two live each night of the tour, with her bandmates and other guests (Flyte, Bear's Den, baker to the stars Frances Quinn and the like...) hopping onto the streams to play and chat. It was a great run of streams, and has no doubt led to the Into The Song idea. Curated by the band's label Communion Music and happening on their Instagram, Abi will be hosting the likes of Dizzy, Flyte, Willie J Healey, Samantha Crain, Night Flight and more, playing and discussing a track each. Tune in from 6pm on the Communion Instagram.

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 20 April 2020

WATCH: Declan McKenna - 'The Key To Life On Earth'

Monday again? Surely not. Time for a brilliant new music video from Declan McKenna which dropped into my inbox last week (I think...) I haven't really listened to Declan much before, but off the back of this track and video I am going to take a listen to his debut What Do You Think About The Car? and will certainly be eagerly awaiting his brand new record, Zeros. Sadly, the release for the record has been put back from May to 21st August but I'm sure it'll be more than worth the wait, and we've got a couple of singles to be delving into for now. New track The Key To Life On Earth sees Declan's trademark blend of indie pop and psychedelic sounds, but it's the video which really drew me in. After a while being mutually compared to one another by fans, Declan managed to get none other than The End Of The F***ing World star Alex Lawther to act alongside him in the video and the result is superb.

He explains that "The Key To Life On Earth reflects on mundanity and hostility. I suppose it's set in suburbia much like my hometown. The video sees two people, who are very similar, in conflict with each other, and I think that's the simplest analogy for the song's purpose." 

On working with Alex, he adds that he was "someone I've wanted to work with for a long time [...] I was trying to get in contact after seeing how much people compared us online [...] We met up for tea a few times and found out we really did have a lot of mutual passions and ideas, and we shared and compared our experiences of working in our respective creative worlds. We hung out at the Extinction Rebellion and I ended up playing him some of my album. We were both keen to work together but syncing up timewise was pretty challenging. We eventually pulled together with the video's director Will Hooper [...] we finally managed to lock in a date to make this video - and just in time as it turns out." 

Declan's new record Zeros is due for release on 21st August - pre-order it here.

Follow Declan McKenna - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Haux - 'Violence In A Quiet Mind’

With a string of singles and a couple of EPs under his belt, the first of which was released back in 2016, it seems surprising that Haux (AKA photographer-turned-musician Woodson Black) is only just announcing news of his debut album. Delve deeper into his story, and you'll find the reasons for the wait; the album is an intensely personal collection of tracks which reflect on his experiences of cancer, substance abuse and an accidental overdose within those close to him. Black describes the record as being about "being honest after hiding for so many years [...] like a self-guided therapy session [...] an album for people who naturally hide their true feelings; people that look OK on the outside but are struggling on the inside, people who think they don't deserve to get the help they really need."

The first taste of the record arrives in new single Heavy, a track recalling the moment that he discovered that his Aunt Alice had died of an accidental overdose. He shares that "I remember I was walking back from a show in Boston and I got a phone call from my mum and I kind of just crumpled there on the sidewalk, tearing up. I wrote 'Heavy' about that time. I kind of stepped into her shoes for a little bit and wrote it from her perspective, or at least what I imagined it to be." It's a stunning track and, although it's bound to be a heartbreaking listen, I'm really excited to hear the record in full.

The debut album from HauxViolence In A Quiet Mind was produced by Thomas Bartlett (RhyeSufjan Stevens) and is set for release via Color Study on June 26th. Pre-save it here.

Follow Haux - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

LISTEN: Dizzy (MUNA remix) - 'Sunflower'

Happy... Thursday? April? Maybe?! No posts for a few days as I've been busy tinkering away behind the scenes with the spreadsheet I use to organise basically every single aspect of the blog. Lots of hours and many tweaks later and I'm loving it even more than I did (spreadsheet nerd here) and even created a 'Milestones' table to stare at if I ever get confused about why I spend so much of my time rambling away here. Looking back at how blown away I was to reach 10,000 page views after about nine months, to now be nearing 150,000 page views is slightly overwhelming.

Time for a song. I don't have much to say about this one because I want to let the song speak for itself. I shared the new Dizzy track Sunflower recently - they're a Canadian band I first discovered at The Great Escape a couple of years back, and whose debut album Baby Teeth I completely adore. One of the greatest achievements of my life is getting a couple of my friends to love it as much as I do when we worked at HMV and listened to it a lot. (A lot.) I'm not always much of a fan of remixes but I am loving what MUNA have done with Sunflower. It feels like new music isn't really getting through to me so much at the moment, it's a bit easier to fall back on old favourites, but this got through and I am LOVING it. On repeat.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow MUNA - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday, 13 April 2020

LISTEN: Hailaker - 'Holding, Pt.1'

Happy drowning-in-chocolate weekend, folks. I'm slow at posting at the moment but music isn't letting up! The last couple of weeks have seen some of my favourite additions yet to the 2020 playlist, and a few days ago, a very welcome addition came in the form of a surprise Hailaker EP. Holding, Pt. 1 is the first part (of three) of their brand new record, releasing in full over the next few weeks. Cause for celebration!

If the project is new to you, it's the brainchild of Jemima Coulter and Ed Tullett, with a little music help from a bunch of their friends, including Ed's collaborator, Ali Lacey (AKA Ali Lacey). Their self-titled debut album was one of my favourite records of 2019, it's sublime. Sharing news of the new record online, the duo explained that it was written in a cottage in Swanage over a Summer, and recorded at Ali's place in September 2018. Can't wait to hear more, but for now... listen below!

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday, 9 April 2020

LISTEN: BE GOOD - 'Reflection of the Moon'

Alright, it's not *all* bad. There's a new BE GOOD track in our lives, for a start. Bloody love these guys. They're one of my favourite new(ish) bands and there is something very comforting about having new music from them. Reflection of the Moon is currently sitting at the top of my 2020 playlist, alongside new tracks from the likes of Dizzy, Liz Lawrence, Spector and more - listen & follow here.

Aaaand back to BE GOOD. The new track is poignant for the situation we find ourselves in, though it was written just before people started to self-isolate. In a chat with tmrw (read their full post here) vocalist Ash describes the song as celebrating "the peace that can be found in small everyday moments [...] Mundane domestic activities can bring a certain sense of comfort, especially when everything else feels so out of control. We wanted to make glossy and celebratory music out of that little feeling. This song was written before everyone was self-isolating, but since we started having to spend all our time indoors, some of the themes in the song took on a new resonance."

Follow BE GOOD - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

WATCH: Siv Jakobsen - ‘Fight or Flight’

I'm finding myself listening to a lot of dreamy, folk-y music at the moment (think Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Lucy Rose and the like.) The world is a little bit crazy and these genres can really help to bring some relaxation and slow everything down. Where better to look than Siv Jakobsen, who recently shared the third and final single from upcoming album A Temporary Soothing. The album has unfortunately been pushed back until 21st August, with tour dates now taking place in September - we'll just have to be patient!

Talking about the new track, Siv said that "I had this image of a very old couple lying in bed together - still and stuck to the bed-frame, at the end of their life, taking their final breaths together. The song developed into a broader look upon what it is to stay with someone forever, to make that decision and be certain about it. To love someone and to receive love isn't always easy, and giving yourself to someone so completely can be frightening and all consuming." In a post online she explained that the video was shot and directed by Jorgen Bare while they were touring in Japan last year - showing footage of their travels in Tokyo and the mountain village Hijiori.

Follow Siv Jakobsen - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

WATCH: Low Island - 'Search Box' (live from Oxford)

Remember gigs? I've been living near constantly in instagram live gigs for the past couple of weeks, but I'm currently having my mind blown by footage from an... *actual* gig. Back in Autumn, the ever-magnificent/mind-blowing/bewilderingly talented Low Island chaps headed out on a UK tour to celebrate the release of their brilliant new Shut out the Sun EP. For one reason or another, I didn't make it along to the tour, so I am super excited to hear that they recorded some live videos at the  hometown Oxford show, at my beloved old local venue The Bullingdon. They recently shared footage of In Person, and today share Search Box - there's a longer video with all of the EP coming soon... I've had a sneak peak and it's pretty glorious.

When Search Box was first released (alongside a music video and their own online search bot) I wrote in a post that "they are absolutely killing it [...] the lyrics are set alongside some glorious instrumentation that I can imagine going down an absolute treat at a Low Island gig." From the video (below) I can see that I was absolutely right.

It's somehow been over two years since I last saw the band live and while I was most certainly blown away at the time, these live videos are on a different, face-melting kind of level. They've certainly been finding their feet when it comes to the live show. Every aspect of the performance, from Carlos' impressive and commanding showmanship and the crazy musical talent on show right down to the stage set-up/lighting ties together to make something pretty perfect. A note on the stage design - it was a production designed for the tour, supported by the Arts Council, with the stage design aiming to reflect the themes of online loneliness and isolation that the EP itself explores.

If you need me, you'll find me watching this in a dark room and pretending that I'm at a gig.

Follow Low Island - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

WATCH: Holly Humberstone - 'Falling Asleep At The Wheel'

This has been out for a couple of weeks now, but what is time at the moment anyway... it's the new track and video from Grantham based singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone. While she's spent the last couple of years performing at festivals around the country and supporting Lewis Capaldi in Europe, she's a new name to me, coming onto my radar recently when she was announced for the new Tracks Festival from Communion (sadly now cancelled and launching in 2021 instead.) With her artist bio citing the likes of HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers and Lorde as inspirations, you can hear those influences and more in this lovely new track, her second single.

Sharing the track online, Holly wrote "this song means so much to me. I wrote it a while ago and it was probably the first time I felt like I knew who I was within the music I was making. I loved creating it at my weird home, where the seasons were shifting, with the legend Rob Milton."

Follow Holly Humberstone - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

LISTEN: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'The Something Else'

News of an incoming Pêtr Aleksänder EP is very welcome indeed - Another World is due for release via Kin Records on May 20th. The classical contemporary duo, made up of all-round legends Tom Hobden and Eliot James, has recently shared The Something Else and for want of a better phrase it is... well, something else. Beautiful. I appreciate classical music but it isn't really a genre I've ever explored much, but I love the work that this pair do to bring classical music to a new audience, with a contemporary spin. It's all a very clever mix of strings and piano with electronic beats and is unlike anything else I post about here.

On the new track, Eliot explains that it is "an instrumental arrangement for piano and strings built around 16 repeating notes which were originally inspired by Pachelbel's Canon. Our 16 notes provide the backbone for a sweeping string arrangement which ebbs and flows around the central theme, accompanied by some slices of vocals and electronics which allude to the wider theme of our EP. It is a piece of music we have been playing and experimenting with live and became a natural starting point for the new wave of music we have been working on recently." 

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