Thursday 27 December 2018

My albums of the year!

I'm already looking ahead to albums from the likes of Maggie Rogers, Indoor Pets and Busted next year, but first, it's time to reflect on some of the wonderful music that I've been enjoying this year with a round-up of my favourite albums to be released in 2018. It's taken a lot of thinking (you hardly need me to tell you it's been a brilliant year for new music!) but I've whittled it down to a top five, which I'll follow up with some more albums I've really been loving this year. 

1. Rae Morris - Someone Out There

If you've seen my posts during the year, it's probably not all that surprising that Rae has secured the top spot and deservedly so. I've pretty much spent the entire year telling anyone who will listen that I completely adore this record, and seeing Rae perform twice towards the end of the year cemented my love for these tracks. At the time of release, lyrics on many of the tracks were incredibly relatable, meaning that I connected with the album in a way I'd never really experienced before. This is a very special album for me. Picking a favourite track is almost impossible as I genuinely love every second, but if I had to choose, it'd be Dip My Toe

2. Novo Amor - Birthplace

Until this year (to my shame) I hadn't even heard of Novo Amor before, but instantly fell for his beautiful falsetto vocals when I saw the Birthplace video over Summer. The video is a cinematic masterpiece in its own right, highlighting the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. Finding that he had a page on his website detailing ways in which his album campaign and upcoming tour were going to be sustainable, I knew I'd stumbled across an artist I'd likely fall in love with, and I was right. The album may only be 33 minutes long, but those are 33 of the most stunning minutes of music I've heard this year and I absolutely can not wait to catch him headlining my favourite festival Bushstock next year! Favourite track: Repeat Until Death.

3. Mumford & Sons - Delta

Probably my most highly anticipated album of the year, my favourite chaps Mumford & Sons did not disappoint with Delta, their fourth studio album, though they did make us wait until November, and snuck into the top five at the last minute! The album has had a mixed reception from critics and fans alike, but I find that part of the joy of music is that it's totally subjective, and I personally love the record. The band themselves have expressed the belief that it's their best record yet, and I'm inclined to agree with them (but don't tell Sigh No More that... it'll always be a classic album for me!) Favourite track: Wild Heart.

4. Cosmo Sheldrake - The Much Much How How & I

I started listening to Cosmo at the end of last year, just in time for his debut record in April this year and he is absolutely one of my favourite recent musical discoveries. Cosmo is one of the most intelligent and fiercely creative people to grace my earphones this year, and his album is a collection of tracks that are bonkers and magical in equal measure. I love it. Birthday Suit sounds as if it has been taken directly from the soundtrack of an old Disney film, Wriggle provided one of my favourite remixes of the year from Mr. Jukes (listen to that here) and Come Along is one of my favourite standalone tracks of the year. But my absolute favourite on the record (currently) has to be the last tune, Hocking, it's five minutes of instrumental bliss (and simultaneous craziness.)

5. Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance

I'd challenge anyone who has listened to the Idles album this year to claim that it isn't one of their albums of the year. And to anyone that hasn't: listen to it, pronto, and add it to your list. I'm guilty of at first labelling the band and album as angry rock music, but delving deeper (and reading interviews such as this one with the BBC) has shown me that there is a lot more to this Bristol band than I initially realised. It's an incredibly socially conscious record, exploring issues such as Brexit and toxic masculinity, as well as real losses that singer Joe has endured in recent years. The album takes these negative subjects and turns them on their head, providing songs that celebrate difference and are full of hope and unity. Idles are the band I didn't know I needed in 2018. Favourite track: Danny Nedelko.

So that's my top five albums this year! There have been so many more that I have absolutely loved in 2018, so here's a list of some more (in release order) that I wholeheartedly recommend you checking out.

Django Django - Marble Skies
The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
MGMT - Little Dark Age
Superorganism - Superorganism
Gengahr - Where Wildness Grows
Ady Suleiman - Memories
The Magic Gang - The Magic Gang
The Vaccines - Combat Sports
Christof van der Ven Empty Handed
Peace Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll
Ben Howard - Noonday Dream
Ghost - Prequelle
Boy Azooga - 1, 2, Kung Fu!
Dawes - Passwords
Panic! At The Disco - Pray For The Wicked
Florence & The Machine - High As Hope
Evergreen - Overseas
Dizzy - Baby Teeth
Jungle - For Ever
Low Island - Low Island & Friends 17-18

Friday 21 December 2018

VIDEO PREMIERE: The Cooling Pearls - 'Welsh Funeral'

I'm always slightly overwhelmed when an artist asks me to premiere something for them - it's an honour that any musician should want my little blog to be the first place that their fans can listen to their new music or see their new video. It's a small but growing list, so thanks to Little Brother Eli, Maiians, Hazey Jane, The Cooling Pearls and Pêtr Aleksänder for endowing me so much trust over the last couple of years - here's to more features of this kind in 2019! For now, I'm rounding off 2019 with one last premiere, as Oxford's The Cooling Pearls are back for more with the video for their new (but actually, quite old) tune Welsh Funeral, filmed and edited by friend of the band, film-maker Gem de Silva 

The track is taken from the band's second album The Red Laugh which was released back in September, over eight years after their debut record. My favourite element of the track is that parts of the piano and violin you hear in the recording have been reversed, creating quite an eery soundscape. It's almost as if something is missing, or isn't quite right, but it's difficult to put your finger on it, which is pretty fitting for the track. The closing track and only piano-led tune of the record, it's a beautiful and incredibly personal track for vocalist and songwriter Aiden Canaday, so it feels only right to introduce the video with Aiden's own words... 

"The song is an old one that I wrote in 2007 after my Tadcu (Welsh for Grandad!) passed away. He was one of my best friends and I guess the first person close to me to die. I was brought up in South Wales surrounded by a loving, close family and since then the song has grown to reflect upon the passing of my mum and uncle. The lyrics are just how I feel about the whole situation I suppose - we are born, we all feel different emotions in between, we can see and believe what we want about it all and then we die.

Everyone grieves in different ways and I guess this song is part of the process. Playing it live every so often is part of that too and then in a way it never goes away but keeps the people involved close to me and in my thoughts. I suppose that's what I've tried to further with the video as well. Some of the lyrics - 'your clothes are on my back and your words are on my soul' - literally reflect that I have always worn some of my Tadcu's clothes (the jumper in the video for instance) and keep hold of loved one's belongings as a memento and it keeps them close to me. 

[Gem & I] both had ideas and locations in mind and tried to make something to reflect the emotions of the song without being too cheesy. We filmed the video in South Wales, initially on the beaches in Porthcawl and Port Talbot. To reflect the warped and sparse nature of the song Gem wanted it to be very bleached out in parts and so we were lucky with the weather that day. We filmed the piano parts in my mum's old front room on her piano with that portrait of her - she was a songwriter and my brother and I recorded her last ever recording right there in May 2015, so it's all linked in some way. We then went up into the hills around Ammanford where we spent a lot of time together as a family and where my mum and uncle's ashes were released - it's very bleak and beautiful up there and I always thought it would work well with imagery for Welsh Funeral.

It's all a homage to the people I love and miss - this song just keeps me thinking about them and thus they're still close in some way.

The rest of the album, although pretty melancholy, has multiple harmonies, layers of guitar, drums (our first album had no drums!), bass and many other extra musical finds which you can get lost in. People usually release tracks that capture the album, but with this I think this song has been with me so long and is very personal, it'd be nice to give it to others to delve in to."

Watch the video for Welsh Funeral below, listen to a brand new remix of the track by Message To Bears here and be sure to grab your copy of The Red Laugh on Bandcamp here.

Follow The Cooling Pearls - Facebook | Twitter.

Monday 17 December 2018

LISTEN: Evergreen - 'Foreigner' (Franc Moody remix)

How to improve one of my favourite tracks from this year's Evergreen record Overseas, you ask? Let Franc Moody loose on it. The London group have remixed The Foreigner and it makes for one of the best tracks I've heard all year. Up there with the best remix I've heard this year, alongside the Everything Everything reworking of Rae Morris album title track Someone Out There. If you like what you're hearing below, I implore you to listen to both Overseas (listen out for other favourites Gemini and Bloom) and the Franc Moody EP Dance Moves which is the ultimate bop from start to finish.

Follow Evergreen online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Follow Franc Moody online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 14 December 2018

FESTIVAL NEWS: Bushstock line-up announcement!

This genuinely is some of the best music related news I've heard in a long time. My favourite festival Bushstock have announced the first few acts for the 2019 festival, including my favourite musical discovery of the year Novo Amor, who is the first headliner. Can. Not. Wait.

Bushstock is a one day multi-venue festival held in Shepherd's Bush and organised by the folks at Communion Music. Across my four years of attending I've caught the likes of Nick Mulvey, Matthew & The Atlas, Seramic, Amber Run, Ady Suleiman, The Staves, Tamino and Frances. They're my favourite label, working with some of my favourite artists, and it's always a wonderful day of music discovery - the worst part is deciding which artists to miss! Alongside Novo, they've also announced the equally brilliant MarthaGunn, as well as Apre, Olivia and Winnie Raeder with a lot more to be announced. Grab bargain early bird tickets for the festival, which takes place on June 15th 2019, here.

Follow Novo Amor - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 13 December 2018

TOUR NEWS: Ferris & Sylvester (Feb 2019)

They've just finished up a support tour with Jade Bird, and Ferris & Sylvester have signed off by doing what any artist who loves playing music live would do... they've announced their first ever headline tour! They'll be heading out on the road in February, taking in shows across the UK including Leeds, Glasgow, Brighton and Dublin, as well as a show at The Lexington in London. They're a formidably talented duo and a brilliant live act - their set at The Great Escape in Brighton kicked off the festival for me back in May and I loved it! Check out their recent video for London's Blues below...

Tickets for the tour are on sale here, with full dates as follows: Oporto, Leeds (4th Feb); Poetry Club, Glasgow (5th); Eagle Inn, Manchester (6th); Cuban Embassy, Birmingham (7th); Cavern, Exeter (9th); The Lexington, London (11th); The Prince Albert, Brighton (12th); Joiners, Southampton (13th); Sound House, Dublin (14th).

Follow Ferris & Sylvester - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

LISTEN: Margot - 'Coffee Stained Smiles'

I am always up for a bit of dream-pop... I've really enjoyed discovering Honey Moon this year, and loved Willie J Healey's 666 Kill EP. The latest in gloriously smooth dream-pop comes in the form of Coffee Stained Smiles from London quintet Margot. It's the first in a series of three singles, each tackling the topic of mental health. This first track is inspired by a scene in the recent film Lady Bird, where the central character's mother only gets time to herself, time for contemplation, on her drive between work and home. As a retail worker (particularly over the festive period) this is pretty relatable - there's a constant pressure to be visible and welcoming to customers, who, particularly at this time of year, might not always show the same courtesy in return.

The track's inspiration is translated to an imagined middle-aged man's rainy drive, focusing upon his partner's concern for his mental health, with the repeated lyric "oh it's all so hard to tell, if he's up or down I can't tell." While the situation is imagined, it's all too common, as vocalist Alex Hannaway explains - "I've had experience with adults of that age stoically withholding information in regards to their mental health and I've seen how this can affect friends and family. It's desperation, it's unconditional love, and a hope that things can turn around." Listen to the track below and keep an eye out for the upcoming singles.
I’ve had experience with adults of that age stoically withholding information in regards to
their mental health and I’ve seen how this can affect friends and family. It’s desperation, it’s unconditional love, and a
hope that things can turn around.
I’ve had experience with adults of that age stoically withholding information in regards to
their mental health and I’ve seen how this can affect friends and family. It’s desperation, it’s unconditional love, and a
hope that things can turn around.
I’ve had experience with adults of that age stoically withholding information in regards to
their mental health and I’ve seen how this can affect friends and family. It’s desperation, it’s unconditional love, and a
hope that things can turn around.

Follow Margot - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 10 December 2018

LISTEN: Fil Bo Riva - 'Lo'ver'

Probably one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2019, I'm eagerly awaiting the debut Fil Bo Riva record Beautiful Sadness, which is due in Spring. Following up recent single Go Rilla, we've been treated to another taster of the album in the form of slow burning L'over. The quiet opening provides the perfect backdrop to highlight singer Filippo Bonamici's trademark vocals and shows us that the band are capable of scoring something beautiful with more than just punchy indie pop - though when they do that, they do it very well! Take Head Sonata (Love Control) as a perfect example.

The new track, Fil explains, is a "song [that] is trying to celebrate this weird twist of feelings - it's pretty much an homage to the little ups and downs that come with every liaison, a song inspired by that incredible strange feeling that we call jealousy." 

Follow Fil Bo Riva - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 7 December 2018

LISTEN: Saint Raymond - 'Echo'

I've been tidying up my submissions inbox over the last couple of days and was reminded of this track which I couldn't let slip through the net - it's been on repeat a lot since I first heard it a month or so ago! Following the success of his debut album in 2015, Nottingham singer-songwriter Saint Raymond has recently signed a deal with Cooking Vinyl for his second record. Echo is his first release with the label, a track "about how opposites in a relationship are sometimes what makes it work." Talking of his new deal he explains that "I cannot wait to work with them on my second album, which feels like it has been a long time coming. The chance to go ahead and fulfil that is amazing. I'm so happy with the songs I've been writing and very excited about what is to come." Listen to Echo below...

Follow Saint Raymond - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 6 December 2018

WATCH: Maggie Rogers - 'Light On'

I saw my favourite guys Mumford & Sons play live last week, performing on the tour for their latest studio album Delta. They were brilliant (of which there was no doubt) but I was almost equally excited for the support set from American singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, who I've been hearing a lot of positive things about for a couple of years now. She took complete control of the arena crowd, delivering a set full of tracks from her upcoming debut album Heard It In A Past Life, due 18th Jan. I'll take a punt - it'll probably be an early entry for one of the best albums of the year (you heard it here...) Pre-order the record here.

Light On is Maggie's most recent single, which, at the show, she described as being all about the last two years of her life and career, which have been a bit of a whirlwind. In a press release for the track, she details that "this song is a letter to my fans about the last two years of my life. There was so much change that happened so fast, I wasn't always sure how to make all this stuff feel like me. I was really overwhelmed for a while, and scared too - my life became so public so fast and there were times I wasn't sure that this was all for me. But I never had doubts about the music. And every night I got on stage and was reminded why I love doing this. This is the most vulnerable I've felt in a song and it's me saying thank you for all the light my fans brought me when I couldn't find it for myself. I love music more than anything else in the whole world and I always have. This song is me actively choosing this life - in my way and in my time." 

Follow Maggie Rogers - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

LIVE: Cosmo Sheldrake at EartH (29/11/18)

If you take a quick glance through the posts I've shared this year it's probably not much of a surprise that Cosmo Sheldrake is likely to feature in my albums of the year post (coming soon... when I get time to write it!) I was therefore VERY excited to catch the London date of his The Much Much How How & I tour last week, as I've been eagerly awaiting a full live set since catching him supporting Johnny Flynn at The Roundhouse last October. Describe the show in a short sentence...? Complete and utter genius.

The gig took place in newly launched venue EartH in Hackney, which has instantly become one of my new favourite London venues. Formerly known as Hackney Arts Centre, the venue (full title Evolutionary Arts Hackney) is a "progressive and essential multi-arts space for the 21st century". They aim to be inclusive to all and to provide a broad spectrum of arts to live audiences. The space itself is the site of the Savoy Cinema, which opened back in the 1930s. After the show I took myself to Google and did a little research, finding this article from the Hackney Citizen about 'long lost cinemas' in Hackney which explains that there have been over 60 cinemas in the area, with around 30 operating simultaneously between 1920 and 1950. While the majority of the sites have been redeveloped into flats, supermarkets and buildings of similar purpose, it is particularly heartwarming to see the Savoy being used as a cultural hub once more. It's a unique space and I hope that it thrives!

Gigging alone and having travelled down to London straight from a shift at work, I took myself down to the front of the venue, settled down with a book, and waited for the first set. Finnegan Tui took to the stage with his guitar, but any expectations I had for just-another-solo-male-artist-with-an-acoustic-guitar were quickly torn away. At just 18, his talent is pretty mind-blowing and his style incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. He very quickly informed us that Cosmo was one of his favourite musicians and an inspiration for him and it was easy to hear this in elements of his performance, but he was particularly individual, at one point using a drum pad to play a solo with samples of an oboe. I'll certainly be keeping an ear out for Finn in the future!

Next up, tour support I See Rivers took to the stage. Often at gigs it can feel as if you're willing time to pass quickly for the support sets so that you can watch the artist you came along to see, but during their set I was very quickly struck with the thought that I'd happily have gone along to see both supports playing their own show (a similar thought occurred to me when I first saw Cosmo play, in fact!) They're a Norwegian trio playing folk music with an infectiously positive stage presence and beautiful harmonies, and they warmed the crowd up wonderfully.

With a lot of anticipation in the air, Cosmo finally took to the stage, and opened his set with my favourite track The Moss. Things could only get better from here... right?! Right. We were treated to the likes of Hocking and Pliocene from his record, but highlights of the set came in the form of improvisations, which cemented my pre-existing view that Cosmo is an absolute genius. It was a treat, and almost intimidating to witness him creating quality music on the spot, in front of a sold out crowd. Two examples of creative craziness came in the shape of gargling some water and looping it, and looping the noise of a desk-fan brushing against the microphone.

I'd anticipated dancing, and a previously relaxed crowd couldn't hold it in once Cosmo played the utter tune Come Along. Fans flocked down to the front of the auditorium and didn't stop dancing for the rest of the show, which featured a collaboration with I See Rivers on Rich, a sunflower dance troupe (no, seriously) for Wriggle and a brass band for Hocking, which I would place as one of the best tracks I've heard this year. An explosion of sound, and what feels like an insight into the inner workings of Cosmo's mind, it is truly something to experience live. Here's a video from his last London show...

To sum up - from what I've seen of Cosmo on stage and online, he seems to completely adore what he does, giving it his all to create the best work he possibly can. He is an incredibly talented and intelligent human being (in the best way possible, a Cosmo Sheldrake gig feels like attending a science lesson) and he is creating music that sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. To watch his live show is genuinely a privilege. I implore you to listen to his record and catch him live if you get the chance!

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 30 November 2018

LISTEN: Little Brother Eli - 'Oops'

Little Brother Eli have had a pretty busy year but they're not slowing down just yet... they've just shared their fifth single of the year - Oops. Following up Stop Pretending, Wait For You, Our Kind Of Love and Tooth the track is true to LBE form - it's full of catchy pop hooks, shows off lead singer Alex Grew's unique vocals and makes use of the band's incredibly tight harmonies, which have been sharpened over the past couple of years across tons of acoustic performances, including many Sofar Sounds shows! Following up a show at London's O2 Islington last week, they're launching the track with a hometown show at O2 Academy Oxford tonight - grab tickets for the show here.

Follow Little Brother Eli online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 29 November 2018

WATCH: Franc Moody - 'Dopamine (Live)'

Franc Moody are one of my favourite live discoveries of the year. They supported at, coincidentally, one of my favourite gigs of the year, when Friendly Fires returned to the live stage with a show at O2 Academy Brixton back in April. As Friendly Fires have been a huge favourite of mine for years I had very high expectations for the show, and really loved their support set and was particularly impressed with just how well they fit alongside Friendly Fires. Support act choosing done very well. I've since been enjoying their Dance Moves EP a lot, and they've just shared a live video for the track Dopamine, which features one of the funkiest bass lines I've heard all year. Check out the video below, and if you want to catch them live, they're headlining London's Heaven on 17th April, tickets here.

Follow Franc Moody - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

TOUR NEWS: Low Island 'In Person' tour (March 2019)

The ever talented chaps Low Island have announced what I am pretty sure is their biggest run of UK shows to date for March 2019! The shows come in support of a new single due early in the year, with the tour taking in the likes of Southampton, Liverpool, Brighton, Nottingham, Reading and lots more, as well as a Low Island & Friends show at the Hackney Show Rooms in London. Pre-sale for the shows starts today with tickets going on general sale on Friday, 30th November. To whet your appetites and show you just how brilliant a Low Island live show here, I'm sharing this video of the brilliant track Too Young once again. Adore this.

Full dates: Boileroom, Guildford (12th March); Joiners, Southampton (13th); Cookie, Leicester (14th); Phase One, Liverpool (15th); Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds (16th); Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (20th); Green Door Store, Brighton (21st); Hackney Show Rooms, London (22nd); Thekla, Bristol (26th); Soup Kitchen, Manchester (27th); Bodega, Nottingham (28th); South Street Art Centre, Reading (29th); Broadcast, Glasgow (3rd April); Think Tank?, Newcastle (4th). Tickets here!

Follow Low Island online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Pliocene'

It is testament to the weird and wonderful world of Cosmo Sheldrake's music that the idea of him performing a track live in a hot air balloon whilst it is in flight over Barcelona seems (almost) normal. Adding to this, apart from Cosmo's vocals, the track is made up almost exclusively of recordings of animals from ecosystems which are endangered. It is so typically Cosmo and I adore it. The track is Pliocene, one of my favourites from his record The Much Much How How & I and the video is more than worth a watch!

As Cosmo himself describes, "Pliocene is a song about deep time and extinction." "Many of the sounds that make up the tune are recordings of animals from endangered ecosystems. The beat is primary made using recordings of fish that the American military made during the cold war. The kick drum is an Oyster toad fish, and the snare a Buck toothed Parrot fish, both fish that are commonly found in coral reefs. And the main melodic sound is a recording of a raven recorded by the soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause in Algonquin national park. Bernie Krause has spent the last fifty years recording sounds from all over the world, many of the inhabitants of the ecosystems he has recorded are now extinct or endangered. The bass is made of a recording of a pig from a city farm in London." 

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 26 November 2018

ALBUM NEWS: Jack Savoretti - 'Singing To Strangers'

Incredibly excited about this one! I've been a big fan of Jack Savoretti since hearing his third studio album Before The Storm back in 2012, and have loved watching his career blossom. In recent years, he's released two brilliant records, Written In Scars and Sleep No More, given several brilliant TV performances, supported the likes of James and John Legend on tour and played his own incredible live shows, touring the UK and further afield with his wonderful live band. His passion for music is infectious, and makes being a fan of his genuinely rewarding.

Exciting news - he's just announced that his sixth studio record Singing To Strangers is due for release on 22nd March. Talking about the title of the record, Jack explains "that's my job: I sing to strangers. That's what I've spent most of my life doing. Singing to friends and family and fans; they're already onside, so you can, to some extent sing anything. Strangers need convincing, touching, connection." 

Produced by Cam Blackwood (George Ezra, London Grammar) and recorded in Ennio Morricone's studio in Rome this Summer, the record features Jack's live band, who he is taking on tour in April across Europe before heading back to the UK for a few shows. The tour culminates in a HUGE show at SSE Wembley Arena, which I absolutely can not wait for. I couldn't be prouder of the trajectory he's taking. Earlier this year, Jack featured on a duet alongside none other than pop legend Kylie MinogueMusic's Too Sad Without You is the closing track of her latest record - a live version from Venice features on Jack's upcoming record, check that out below! Grab tour tickets and pre-order Singing To Strangers in various formats, as well as signed copies, through Jack's website here.

Follow Jack Savoretti - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

LISTEN: Boat To Row - 'Spanish Moss'

Of all the musicians I had the pleasure of meeting while living in Oxford and working for Tigmus, running the door for various shows around the city, notably one of the loveliest was Michael of Boat To Row, who was playing a solo set for us. As far as I recall, he had driven from Birmingham especially for the show, and wasn't phased by a small crowd, delivering a beautiful set. I caught the full band playing a Sofar Sounds Oxford show a few months later in a bicycle café (where I in fact borrowed their film camera and took this rather snazzy shot of them between tracks) and loved their set. Their 2015 debut record I Found You Here is beautiful - I particularly love the track Handsome Beats

Brilliant  news! They're back with a new track and a new record is imminent. Spanish Moss is taken from Rivers That Flow In Circles, due for release in early 2019. To help with the final touches, the band have set up a Pledge Music campaign to take pre-orders for the record, offering the likes of tea towels, tote bags, house gigs and cover songs in return for pledges. Take a listen to the track below and show your support for the campaign here.

Follow Boat To Row - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 16 November 2018

LISTEN: Moscow Apartment - 'Orange'

It's Mumford & Sons album release day finally! I can't wait to take my first listen.... With that in mind, I'm sharing some more indie folk in the shape of Orange from the Toronto based duo Moscow Apartment. Since finding the track in my inbox a couple of weeks back, I instantly added it to my playlists and desperately wanted to share it here. Making music in the same vein of bands like First Aid Kit, the duo is made up of multi-instrumentalists Brighid Fry and Pascale Padilla, who are ridiculously talented at just 15 and 16 years old. They describe the track as being about the "weird twilight-zone feeling that happens sometimes at sunset - when things suddenly don't feel read, like everything around you is a movie." Relatable - tick. They won the Canadian Songwriting Competition in the under 18 category with a demo of the track. Keep an ear out as they're currently working on their second EP!

Follow Moscow Apartment - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 15 November 2018

WATCH: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'A Walk On The Seabed'

It was an honour to premiere a video for the duo Pêtr Aleksänder last year, and I've loved hearing their 'reimaginings' of tracks by Geowulf, Banfi and Interpol this year - but I'm particularly pleased to see that they are back with some new music of their own, their first release of the year! A Walk On The Seabed is the first track from their upcoming debut album, and its release is joined by a particularly stunning music video, taking footage from Italian BAFTA winning filmmaker Martina Amati's UNDER series. A genuinely sublime piece of art. If you like what you're hearing I implore you to take a listen to the rest of their work here - and await album news!

Follow Pêtr Aleksänder - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 12 November 2018

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Hocking' (Live)

Watching this latest video offering from Cosmo Sheldrake I've settled upon my new favourite word to describe the feeling of listening to his music... invigorating.

He recently released a slightly reworked version of the tune Hocking, taken from his debut album The Much Much How How & I (which is pretty marvellous, if you were wondering) and shared a live video of the track from his headline show at Village Underground earlier this year. I missed the show (because I was busy catching Friendly Fires down in Brixton, a reasonable excuse...) and find myself pretty envious of those who were there to catch the performance firsthand. The clip shows Cosmo layering vocals and audio samples before introducing some drummers and brass players into the mix. Recorded from the stage, it's easy to see just how much energy and passion Cosmo pours into the performance, particularly in a rather endearing moment three minutes in where he restarts the brass players twice in order to get the track just right.

If you like what you're seeing and hearing (of which I've no doubt!) then you can catch Cosmo live across the UK later this month, with a show at London's EartH Hackney as well as dates in Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Brighton. He's also just been announced for the Irregular Folks Christmas show at St Barnabas Church in Oxford alongside Sephine Llo, a beautiful venue for some beautiful live music! Find more info about the Oxford date here, and check out the other dates here.

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 9 November 2018

WATCH: Gengahr - 'Atlas Please'

Gengahr have been a stand-out band for me this year. Released back in February, their second album Where Wildness Grows is one of my favourite albums of the year, and it has since been followed by a live album. Their headline set for So Young at The Great Escape was the pinnacle of one of my most memorable evenings of discovery through live music this year (and probably, ever) where I managed to catch Tamino, Sam Fender, Superorganism and Dizzy in various Brighton venues before staying out for what is almost certainly the latest (or should that be earliest?) live performance music I've watched. Nothing, not even a slightly sleep-inducing 1am stage time, was going to stop me catching the band.

Not content with releasing two full length albums in a year, the band shared the single Atlas Please a couple of months ago. They've just shared a video for the track, with the slightly ominous description "We almost died making this video. Literally buried ourselves in poisonous earth for your entertainment." With that kind of introduction, it would be rude not to check it out, right?

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Thursday 8 November 2018

WATCH: Catgod - 'Sleep In'

My beautiful friends Catgod have shared their latest single Sleep In, just the right level of wonderful to leave me feeling a little homesick for their hometown, and my second home, Oxford, where we've had many an evening spent enjoying live music or eating brownies (never simultaneously, though that does sound pretty glorious.) Hearing the track for the first time while re-reading The Hobbit, it struck me that with its flute parts and soothing acoustic guitar, the track would fit perfectly in a Tolkien film adaptation - never a bad thing. As ever, Cat and Robin's vocals compliment one another perfectly in the song, but the closing flute solo really does steal the show for me. Sublime work!

They've filmed their first ever music video for the track, directed and edited by talented Oxford-based photographer Milly Cope, who has worked on several photoshoots with the band in the past. Check out some of her work here! It's a lo-fi, hazy video which perfectly matches the track and (as is always a sign of a brilliant music video) even features a cute dog. 10/10 from me!

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Monday 5 November 2018

LISTEN: Strong Asian Mothers - 'All I Do'

It has been sitting on my list of tracks to write about for a couple of months, which usually means a track will disappear into the blogging abyss, but I knew I couldn't let this one slide - better late than never! London's Strong Asian Mothers returned with their latest single All I Do back in September. On first listen, the sound is a little darker than normal, contrasting with the almost amusing innocence of the refrain "All I do is drink... tap water from the kitchen sink." Their only new music of 2018, for me it's on another level to their previous releases, showing a band who are taking their time to create something truly worth sharing with their fans. Since the release the track has been added to the BBC Radio 6 Music playlist, making its way from the C-list to their A-list in a couple of weeks, and deservedly so. Get listening!

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Thursday 1 November 2018

WATCH: Banfi - 'If Not For You' (acoustic)

Looking for some live acoustic kitchen session goodness on your Thursday morning? A very specific request, but you're in luck... Banfi have shared this session of their latest single If Not For You and it's all kinds of lovely. Complete with a melodica, tight harmonies and even a cat, its worth a watch! They're out on tour in Europe at the moment, with a run of UK shows coming up this month, including London's Moth Club on 18th November. Check out the full dates and grab tickets on their website here!

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Wednesday 31 October 2018

WATCH: Thandii - 'Another One'

Need warming up? Bathe in the golden hues and seaside vibes of this new video from Margate's Thandii. The release is both visually and sonically stunning, showcasing her psychedelic sound with some strong 70s vibes. Having recently signed to 30th Century Records, the track is Thandii's first output through the label, and a track which she describes as being "written for cruising or travelling, without a place to be." The repetitive, almost hypnotic melody of the track (and by extension, the video) certainly gives off this vibe - we're not particularly getting anywhere, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Thandii describes the track as being about "infatuation or addiction, particularly between people [...] that moment when a person has succumb to the influence of another, and it has a powerful effect on them, but they're completely unaware of it." With this in mind director Tom Dream, Thandii describes, reflected this moment "with a wandering, slightly disorientated, dazed & confused cruise through different situations in day-to-day life."

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Monday 29 October 2018

ALBUM NEWS: Indoor Pets - 'Be Content'

It's been a long time coming... Indoor Pets have finally announced their debut album Be Content, which is due for release on 8th March via Wichita Recordings. It has been co-produced by the band's guitarist James Simpson and Kristofer Harris (of Story Books), and mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer. The record features recent single Hi alongside brand new tune Being Strange, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite tunes from the band. With frontman Jamie Glass' trademark vocals and some juicy guitar hooks it's a pretty relatable pop tune with the refrain "I love being strange, it's an easy fit for me." Same.

The band are currently on tour with Bad Sounds, and they're heading out on a headline tour to promote the record in April, including a show at Scala in London on the 17th. Head to the band's website here for tickets and to pre-order the album!

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Friday 26 October 2018

LIVE: Novo Amor at Union Chapel (23/10/18)

First things first. If you haven't yet, stop what you're doing and take a listen to the debut Novo Amor record Birthplace. You can thank me later. In the week since it's release I'm certainly into a double figure listen count (it's probably 20+ if I'm completely honest...) and I'm finding more things that I love about the record upon each listen. It is a sublime piece of work: atmospheric, lyrically beautiful and perfectly executed - one of the best debut albums I have heard in a long time. I simply adore it.

Novo Amor is the moniker of Welsh multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Ali Lacey. He's in the midst of a mammoth twenty-nine show full-band tour across the UK, Europe and the US to promote the record, and I was lucky enough to catch the last UK show of the run, the second of back to back sold out shows at London's Union Chapel. As suspected, it was a completely magical experience, made only more-so by the venue - reminiscent for me of catching the likes of Bear's DenStornoway and Matthew & The Atlas playing in churches in the past few years. There's something truly special, and almost transformative, about hearing this genre of music performed in such a setting.

As those around me settled down for the show with mugs of hot chocolate and the lights went down, Anna Leone, tour support for the UK and European dates, took to the stage. With just her guitar for company, she transfixed the audience of the 900 capacity venue from the first notes, impressing with her well crafted lyrics and unique vocals. You'd hardly have guessed it was the biggest venue she'd played in, until she informed the crowd between tracks, describing it as a bit less daunting the second time around... but only a bit. Two of Ali's band members joined Anna on stage for the final track of her set, and we were given just a small indication of what we might expect from the rest of the evening.

With anticipation in the air, the band took to the stage. I knew that it was going to be great, but I wasn't prepared to be on the verge of tears a couple of tracks in... Nostalgic, emotive music is most certainly my thing and the set ticked all the right boxes in that regard. The band delivered an incredibly powerful opening to the set, displaying the strength of Ali's back catalogue by storming through the record's leading singles Birthplace and Utican in the first few tracks. The six piece ensemble shone in upbeat tracks such as Utican and Emigrate, with particularly stunning violin and trumpet parts. Stripped back moments in the set were a display of Ali's incredibly tight harmonies with guitarist, collaborator and producer Ed Tullett. It truly was an incredible show, leaving me with just one thought... how have I not cottoned on to these guys sooner?!

Ali seemed incredibly humble, always one of the best attributes for an artist to have. In a moment between tracks, he shared how grateful he was for us all coming along to the show and supporting his music, and how he was not only proud of his music being at a stage where he could fill a 900 capacity venue, but of the personal achievement in being able to stand up in front of that many people and perform. I find that we very rarely stop to think of the mental toll that performing in front of a crowd might have for our favourite musicians, and found it quite endearing for Ali to highlight this.

Also worth noting, is something which initially drew me to listen in more depth to Ali's music when I first discovered Birthplace back in June, through its video which aims to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. After a little perusal of the Novo Amor website, I stumbled very happily across a 'Sustainability' page, where Ali shares the ways in which he is aiming to make both the record (recycled packaging AND recycled vinyl pellets!) and tour sustainable, by working with both Julie's Bicycle and Energy Revolution to minimise the environmental impact of the tour. In an interview for M Magazine (PRS) Ali explains that "when artists tour we rarely consider the environmental impact of what we're doing. We forget about the thousands of litres of diesel we burn across tens of thousands of miles, the plastic bottles and disposable cutlery we use once then throw away, and we don't often stop to think about the inks and fabrics we use for our merchandise." I was genuinely chuffed to see the band using reusable water bottles on stage... a little quick maths later, I figure that between six band members across twenty-nine tour dates, they're saving over 170 plastic water bottles, a sizeable impact from a relatively small change, and something which I hope that more touring artists will adopt to do their bit for the environment.

All in all, Novo Amor is quickly becoming my favourite musical discovery of 2018, and the show was a complete triumph. Check out the album, enjoy it as much as I am, watch out for future live shows, and if you're a band or musician - keep an eye on your environmental impact!

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Wednesday 24 October 2018

LISTEN: Fil Bo Riva - 'Go Rilla'

A couple of weeks ago, I went along to Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen to catch the only UK show on Fil Bo Riva's current tour. The show was a complete triumph, the venue was packed out with adoring fans, and songs new and old went down a treat. It was a really wonderful evening and great to hear a few unreleased tracks... Fast forward a couple of weeks, and FBR has (finally!!) announced his debut album Beautiful Sadness which is set for release on 22nd March next year. Still a little while to go, but from what he's released so far, I am certain it will be worth the wait! That includes brand new single Go Rilla, a tune which I simply can't get enough of at the moment.

FBR details that the track is "about unbridled passion and the rapturous idea of escaping the real world" which came about "in Manchester in 2016 while supporting Joan as Police Woman through Europe that winter. It was raining outside and I was in the bathroom just before soundcheck... somehow I started staring at this poster of the club we were playing called Gorilla Club. I don't know why but I just got a flash inspiration, took my phone out and immediately started singing the chorus melody and words. Everything else developed some time after when I found other lyrics I had written down after a dream." 

The new track and album announcement come alongside a tour announcement too - he'll be taking Beautiful Sadness on tour across April and May next year, taking in a show at London's Oslo Hackney on the 1st of May. Full dates and tickets are available here.

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Tuesday 23 October 2018

WATCH: Django Django - 'Swimming At Night'

The Friday before last was a pretty exciting day for Paris / London based indie label Because Music. Not only did they put out the debut Parcels record (which, by the way, is rather wonderful and well worth a listen!) but they released a brand new Django Django EP. The Londoners have had a busy year with the release of brilliant third record Marble Skies at the start of 2018, and they're back already with the Winter's Beach EP. As is part of their charm, no two songs on the release sound the same, they're constantly bending genres and experimenting with new sounds. Closing track Blue Hazy Highs is a little slower than we've come to expect from the band, putting the focus entirely on the vocal harmonies that the quartet are loved for. For me, lead single Swimming At Night is my definite highlight of the EP, take a listen with the official video below, and check out the full EP on Spotify here!

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Monday 22 October 2018

WATCH: Rae Morris - 'Dancing With Character'

Rae Morris is a complete star. Her record Someone Out There was released at the start of the year, and as I've written on here a few times already, it very quickly became a favourite of mine - it's my album of the year so far, easily. Not only did I completely love the music, but I connected with the lyrics on several of the tracks. It's a little bit of a cliché and not something I'm really accustomed to, but it felt as if Rae had penned down tracks explaining exactly how I was feeling at the time. It is now one of my favourite ever records, and I was ecstatic to see Rae perform live in Nottingham's Rescue Rooms a few weeks back, bringing tracks from the record (and her beautiful debut Unguarded) to life with infectious energy, passion and humility.

While some of the faster tracks like Dip My Toe and Atletico (The Only One) are highlights of the record for me, I was really struck by the album's closing track (and slightly slower tune) Dancing With Character upon the first few listens. In a track by track description of the album, Rae details the beautiful story behind the track, which was inspired by her best friend's grandparents. It is a simultaneously heart-wrenching and heartwarming track if you listen to the lyrics closely. Signing off on the Someone Out There era, Rae has shared a simple but rather exquisite video for the track, dancing with her gran in Blackpool Tower Ballroom. From Rae: "Thank you for all your passion, love and constant support for this record. I'm going away for a few months to write the next era. I've got a good feeling about this one." I absolutely can not wait to see what Rae does next, and will be listening to this record with so much adoration for a while to come yet!

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Friday 19 October 2018

WATCH: Sivu - 'Trickle' live at Mizpah Studios

Sivu shared this completely stunning video of recent track Trickle, performed live at Mizpah Studios, earlier this week (in a magical coincidence, I was wearing a Sivu t-shirt at the time and longing for some new music.) The track was released a couple of months back, with Sivu explaining that it had been written while he was working on second album Sweet Sweet Silent, but that the track didn't fit with the rest of the record. Luckily for us, he chose to share the track around the year anniversary of the record, and it is (true to form) a complete treat, and this live performance is an absolute dream. It's a little bittersweet however, as Sivu has labelled the track as a "final chapter" of the record, allowing him to "take a step back to work on new ideas and re discover musically where I want to take the next chapter of me". I'll just have to listen to Sweet Sweet Silent on repeat for now then...

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Thursday 18 October 2018

LISTEN: Friendly Fires - 'Heaven Let Me In'

They're back!! Friendly Fires have shared their second single of 2018 in the shape of Heaven Let Me In, which was premiered by Annie Mac as her Hottest Record in The World earlier this week. It's a complete and utter tune, and was co-produced by Disclosure no less. In true Friendly Fires style there is so much going on in the track, with the funkiest of beats gravitating around frontman Ed Macfarlane's soothing vocals, coming together to make something altogether... well, heavenly. During the premiere, Annie interviewed the guys, who told her that the tune, alongside Love Like Waves, are taken from an upcoming record (!!) which Ed explains is "going good. We have a deadline and we're getting there." You'll find me eagerly awaiting news of this record until it arrives!

Seeing Friendly Fires live earlier in the year as they returned after a few years away from the stage was honestly one of the best live music experiences I've ever had. The show was a complete joy from beginning to end. Not least because of Ed's infectious dance moves. They've just announced an intimate club tour for November, where they'll be playing live in club venues, where they started out, alongside a line-up of DJs - tickets go on general sale tomorrow, grab yours through their site here.

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Wednesday 17 October 2018

WATCH: Public Service Broadcasting - 'White Star Liner'

Back in May, Public Service Broadcasting performed on the Titanic Slipways in Belfast for BBC Radio 6 Music's 'Biggest Weekend' festival. For the show, the band were commissioned to create tracks surrounding the theme of the Titanic, which frontman J. Willgoose, Esq. described as "our attempt to pay tribute to the people that built her here in Belfast, the spirit of optimism of the age that she represented and the 1503 people who died when she sank at sea." You can watch the four tracks being debuted at the show here. They're finally releasing the tracks as an EP next Friday (26th), and have released a video for the title track White Star Liner which you can (and should!) watch below.

I can't wait to see the band perform at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall on 1st November (my third show in the venue this year!) - particularly after their show at Eventim Apollo last October was a musical highlight of the year for me. The RAH show sold out pretty quickly, but there are some tickets available (here) if you're willing to sit in the choir seats - a unique view of a beautiful venue!

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Monday 15 October 2018

ALBUM NEWS: Johnny Flynn - 'Live at the Roundhouse'

For me, Johnny Flynn is a complete star. He is by far one of the best folk musicians of our generation, not to mention being a brilliant actor (Vanity FairBeastLovesick.) Seeing his show at London's Roundhouse last October was a complete joy and it was easily one of the best gigs I saw all year. It was a wonderful showcase of tracks from his latest record Sillion and his stunning back catalogue, including his debut record (and one of my favourite ever albums) A Larum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Support act Cosmo Sheldrake lent his talents to some tracks as an honorary member of Johnny's band The Sussex Wit and it was a beautiful set from start to finish...

Brilliant news! The show was recorded in its entirety and is being released by the wonderful folk at Transgressive on 30th November. As well as a digital version, the live album will be released on double CD and triple (!!) LP and you can pre-order all versions here - there are even signed copies! As far as I know, it's the first show that I've been to that is being released in this way, so I'm pretty excited to relive the show and have something concrete to treasure it by. For now, here's a video of the first track to be released from the show, The Night My Piano Upped and Died, with visuals from Sussex Wit bassist Joe Zeitlin. Similar visuals served as the backdrop for the show, reacting in real time to the sound levels in the room - it was truly magical to watch, adding another dimension to the performance.

A few words from Johnny himself about the show... "On 17 October 2017 we played a gig at The Roundhouse in Camden. It marked the end of a period of touring [and] happened around the ten-year-anniversary of recording our first album 'A Larum'.  It felt like a special night in lots of ways, but mostly because all our best beloveds were there and we were able to celebrate our friendship as a band and the music we have been making since those early days in the backrooms of pubs and flats, mostly a stone's throw from the Roundhouse."

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Saturday 13 October 2018

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Tardigrade Song (Live at the Scrump)'

You learn something new every day... personally, I've just been taking a detailed listen to Cosmo Sheldrake's Tardigrade Song and learning about the resilient micro-animals that are Tardigrades. As if I didn't already think that Cosmo was a musical genius, I now discover that he's been educating listeners all this time... with lyrics such as "I can live life in vacuums for years with no drink, and put up with hardships more than you can think." Take a listen to the track in this brand new video, where, in true Cosmo form, he performs the track live at an apple orchard in Devon, while "industrial quantities of cider" are being made in the background. Check out the studio version of the track on his superb Pelicans We EP here.

Cosmo heads out on tour later this month, starting in Cardiff before taking in shows across Europe, with a string of UK dates in November, including at London's EartH in Hackney on 29th Nov. Check out the dates and grab tickets here (he's an incredible artist to catch live!)

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Monday 8 October 2018

WATCH: Laurel - 'Adored'

I caught Laurel playing live in a cinema for a Sofar Sounds show in Oxford a couple of years ago, and was pretty instantly mesmerised by her. Over the last year or so I've been keeping an eye out as she teased us with singles, and she finally released her long-awaited debut album Dogviolet back in August. One of my favourite tracks from the record is Adored, and it has been given a wonderful music video to match which you can check out below! I completely love Laurel's vocals and this song is a beautiful display of them - get listening!

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Wednesday 3 October 2018

LISTEN: Franc Moody - 'Night Flight'

With less than two weeks until their tour of the UK & Ireland kicks off, Franc Moody have released brand new tune Night Flight. It's all kinds of glorious. I fell for the band pretty quickly once I caught them opening for Friendly Fires earlier in the year - their Dance Moves EP is a triumph, it's full of funk and almost irresistible to dance to and this single follows in the foundations of the EP. Get listening...

If you like what you're hearing, you can catch Franc Moody live this month in: Headrow House, Leeds (12th October); Village Underground, London (16th); Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th); Exchange, Bristol (18th); Patterns, Brighton (19th) & The Grand Social, Dublin (20th). London is sold out, but there are tickets for the rest of the shows here!

Follow Franc Moody online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.