Friday 30 March 2018

LISTEN: Christof van der Ven - 'Vancouver'

There's just a couple of weeks to go until Christof van der Ven releases his debut record Empty Handed into the world and he's shared another track (to join the utterly sublime Killed This Stone-Dead and the title track Empty Handed) entitled Vancouver, with a premiere on DIY. In an interview for DIY, Christof explains that while many of the tracks have been years in the making, his decision to release a full record was fairly recent, having originally planned to release another EP. This new tune centres around Christof's stunning Bon Iver-esque vocals, gradually building to a beautiful horn section which closes the tune. If you like what you're hearing - check out the record when it is released on 13th April, and get along to the launch show at Paper Dress Vintage on 10th April, where Emma Gatrill and Bennie will be supporting.

Follow Christof van der Ven online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Wriggle' (Mr Jukes Edit)

Since discovering his music a few months ago, I've been pretty smitten with everything Cosmo Sheldrake has released, and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of his debut album The Much Much How How and I on 6th April! I'm continually amazed and mesmerised by the incredible sounds that emerge from Cosmo's tracks, particularly upon finding their often unbelievable sources. His latest single Wriggle is an instant favourite, jostling with the likes of The Moss and The Fly (the lyrics of which are from the William Blake poem of the same title) to be named my favourite tune of Cosmo's. If I thought that I couldn't love Wriggle any more however, I was wrong... Mr Jukes (aka Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club) has shared his edit of the track and it is completely incredible, in my eyes (and ears.) Take a listen...

Pre-order your copy of The Much Much How How and I here from Cosmo's site, where you can also check out his upcoming tour dates!

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 29 March 2018

WATCH: The Vaccines - 'Your Love Is My Favourite Band'

There is just one more day until the latest studio album from The Vaccines is released into the world - I've got some pretty high expectations for this one! They've followed up the likes of absolute tunes I Can't Quit and Put It On A T-Shirt with the brilliant new tune Your Love Is My Favourite Band, the most recent taste of the new record. The new tracks combined give some pretty strong What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? era vibes... it certainly isn't a bad thing if they've gone back to their roots with the sound for this new record. It's the latest track to be shared alongside a live performance video which I currently can't get enough of... probably because I'm seeing the band play an instore tomorrow in London! Pre-order the record here and check out the dates for their upcoming UK tour here!

Follow The Vaccines online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 28 March 2018


A second interview! Pretty excited about this one... I'm following up the Fil Bo Riva interview from a couple of weeks ago with a chat with another of my favourite artists at the minute, the wonderful Low Island! I caught up with Jamie (vocals, guitar and keys) to discuss the band's recent (and brilliant) This Other Life EP, their collaborative approach to live shows in the run up to their Scala headline and an upcoming support tour with the Gengahr boys. Get reading...

Hey! Firstly, how and when did you guys meet, and how long has Low Island in its current form existed?

Hi! We’ve all known each other - and made music together - pretty much our whole lives. I think we must have been about 13 once we all knew one another. Low Island formed properly just under two years ago. We'd all played in bands and been DJs together growing up, then we decided to start a project that brought together those two worlds: indie songwriting and electronic dance music.

You released the This Other Life EP a couple of weeks ago after teasing us with various singles over the last few months. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world?! How was the process of making the EP, especially fitting it alongside a fairly busy year of touring in 2017?

It’s really great to have it out after all this time. It came together quite differently to the first two EPs, which were mostly made up of songs that existed before we launched Low Island. Last summer, we took all our gear to this tiny cottage on the edge of a moor in Exmoor and just bunkered down to write loads of new music. We often go there to focus 'cos there’s no neighbours, signal or wi-fi. Somehow, it was absolutely freezing, despite the national heat-wave that was happening at the time...we were having to make fires in June!

We then went and recorded it all in a proper studio, which was a first for us. We were lucky enough to work with engineer Joe Hartwell Jones, who really helped us achieve the sound we were after. The timing of it all was pretty tight, as we were simultaneously playing loads of great festivals, so we’d be working in the studio then driving off to the Lake District to play Kendall Calling Festival, then returning to the studio at 05:00!

What are your favourite tunes (as a band or individually) from the EP to play live and why?

That’s a really hard one. They’re genuinely all fun to play… we even found a way for the whole band to play Tomorrow, which always seem to go down well. I suppose we particularly like playing Too Young, because we’re able to make quite a massive sound without too many instruments or parts going on.

If the recent shows at Corsica Studios were anything to go by I’m certain that you’ll have some pretty exciting plans up your sleeves for the upcoming London headline show at Scala… anything that you can talk about without spoiling it for us?

We can’t wait for Scala, it’s going to be the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and by such a long way. We're currently planning some really exciting non-musical things to take place in and amongst the great acts we’ve got with us (Fran Lobo, Wendy Rae Fowler and Sykoya).

I guess all I can say is that we’re gonna incorporate some art forms that we’ve never explored before.

It’s clear from your gigs and the recent mini documentary for DIY that you’re a band who love to join forces with others - it’s one of my favourite things about you, the inherent desire to collaborate. Why do you think that it is so important to you to work alongside not only other musicians but artists in areas such as design and movement when putting on a live show?

It honestly just felt like a really natural thing for us to do. It all sort of started this time last year, when we’d made this soundscape for a friend’s choreography piece, and we thought they should perform it at our show at Electrowerkz…so they did. We’ve basically been expanding on that concept ever since: how can we bring exciting and refreshing performances to the traditional gig experience, and how can we use the venue space in creative ways. The collaborative aspect is something we really enjoy; as it’s always fascinating seeing how minds work within different artistic fields. Also, it’s hard enough trying to get a foothold in the arts today, so it feels good to join forces and make stuff together.

As well as the upcoming Scala show you’ve got an exciting string of UK dates coming up as main support for the mighty Gengahr this April and May. A support tour is similar to a festival in that the audiences won’t necessarily know your music before the show - how do you approach shows like that?

We’re so stoked to support Gengahr and to go on our first UK support tour. At shows like this, we will probably feel a lot like the new kid at school, but you sort of have to deal with the situation in the same way: be yourself and be confident.

What are the plans for after the tour? A tiny bit of world domination, perhaps? Or maybe some festivals?

I love the idea of "a tiny bit of world domination”... I’m picturing some sort of village dictatorship. We’ll be doing lots of writing and recording and then some festivals. We’re particularly excited about playing the main stage at Common People Oxford this year. If I can get away, I’m gonna try and fulfil a recent dream, which is to swim to the real Low Island, which is about a mile out in the Atlantic off the coast of West Cork, Ireland.

Finally - what music is in your headphones or in the tour van stereo at the minute? Any local Oxford artists you want to shout about? For me it’s got to be BE GOOD and Catgod!

I’ve really been enjoying Boxed In’s Pushing On EP from last year, Rosebud by U.S. Girls, and bless ur heart by serpentwithfeet. My feel good tune at the moment is definitely It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) by Peggy Gou… give it a listen. Yeah, BE GOOD and Catgod are fantastic! Nightbus and Home In Your Heart are my personal favourites from each. We’ve got so much love for Willie J Healey too… it’s a great time for Oxford music!

Tuesday 27 March 2018

WATCH: Rae Morris - 'Someone Out There'

Someone Out There from Rae Morris remains my favourite release of the year so far - lots of the tracks on the record stand out for various reasons, but a favourite is the beautiful and heartfelt title track. This week we've been blessed with a video which serves as a tribute to Rae's beloved hometown, Blackpool. The video features three generations of Rae's family, and various folk from the town with whom she grew up, alongside shots within the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom and of the local fire service's Red Watch, with whom Rae's dad served for thirty years. It's a real heart warmer and fits the track perfectly.

Speaking to DIY Magazine about the video, Rae commented that "This video is full of special moments for me. Playing on the Blackpool Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer after dreaming of it since I was a kid and dancing around the room with my nana are things I'll never forget. Someone Out There is a reminder that no matter who you are or where you are, there is always someone who loves and cares for you." A reminder we all need, I reckon. Do yourself a favour and give it a watch!

Follow Rae Morris online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 26 March 2018

LISTEN: The Magic Gang release self-titled debut album

So I've been foolish... I've slept on The Magic Gang until now. The Brighton four-piece released their self-titled debut album last week so I decided to give it a go and after a few listens I regret not checking them out sooner - though a part of me is quite enjoying the charm of having a whole album of new music to discover! Stand out tracks for me so far include the 2016 single All This Way, my mum's namesake Caroline and the slow-burner Take Care, as well as Getting Along which you can check out below. The record has everything you expect of a quality indie record and a pinch of something unique - it's instantly earned a spot as one of my favourite records of the year so far! Listen to the record on Spotify here and grab your copy from the band's website here.

Follow The Magic Gang online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Saturday 24 March 2018

WATCH: Banfi - 'Never Really Cared'

It's probably no secret that I completely adore the Banfi chaps, and it feels wonderful to finally have a full EP worth of their music to explore! Next step, an album...? They released The Jack Powell EP recently, featuring their tunes Never Really Cared, Future and Leaving Me Behind alongside their cover of Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street. With every new release they're growing in confidence, taking risks and the music is getting better and better for it. This EP is a beautiful collection of tracks, combining some great songwriting with vocalist Joe's unique voice, and some pretty catchy guitar licks and drum beats.

It's been pretty clear to me for a while that Banfi can't really do any wrong when it comes to music videos but they've completely outdone themselves with their new offering for the tune Never Really Cared. The video, in extension of the track's lyrics, explores the notion of finding it hard to tell somebody something that they didn't want to hear and "explores the concept of doing other people's dirty work". While the subject matter is pretty intense and sad, the video itself is hilarious (tell me you don't crack up at 2 min 46...) If all that isn't enough to persuade you to give it a watch - there's also an adorable dog!

Follow Banfi online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 23 March 2018

LISTEN: Self Help - 'Birthdayboy' EP

According to their bio online, Self Help "punk pops it with the jagged edges left on". One of the most charming sides of blogging on here is listening to music that I probably wouldn't have otherwise... pop punk isn't necessarily one of my genres of choice (or so I thought) but I'm really digging this new EP from the Oxford four-piece! BirthdayBoy features the brilliant tune Daydreams which I shared a few weeks ago alongside four more tracks. It's loud and a bit of a riot, whilst simultaneously being really well measured and never too much. There are powerful rhythm sections and some cracking guitar solos (especially at the end of the final tune Sensation, a favourite of mine), and it's all held together by lead vocalist Danny Jeffries and some pretty amusing lyrics. Get listening and if you're in Oxford, be sure to catch them this evening at The Cellar as they launch the EP with a special hometown gig!

Follow Self Help online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 22 March 2018

LISTEN: PBSR - 'Holding'

London-based Spanish producer Pablo Serrano, who goes by the name PBSR, is back with the second single from his upcoming EP ... and dusky doors. I really enjoyed the first single Volcano which I shared on the blog back in January - this tune takes those electronic soundscapes and delves deeper. It's pretty intense, and has you hooked from the off-set.

Writing of the track, PBSR explains that it "was the last song I wrote for the EP. It is one of the most intense songs I've ever written, after I struggled to find myself and my mind space in London, and I think the song conveys that fragility. It includes some ambient recording from the Tate, where I spent quite some time during this period." 

You can catch PBSR live at the next Communion Music monthly club night on April 1st at Notting Hill Arts Club, where he'll be sharing a line-up with favourites of mine Tempesst, alongside Slow Riot, Ulysses Wells, Soleima and Luna Bay. Get more info about that show here!

Follow PBSR online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

LISTEN: PD Liddle - 'You Shouldn't Have Called'

Peter Liddle (of Dry The River fame) has frankly one of the most beautiful, delicate voices I've  ever heard. The band are one of my favourites and the first that I caught live in my first year of University, first at an acoustic instore gig at Truck Store and then at O2 Academy Oxford just a couple of minutes down the road, straight after. They were joined by Gengahr and Pale Seas, and the evening stayed with me for a long time - the band and their two records mean a lot to me.

Like many others I was immensely gutted to hear of the band's separation a couple of years ago but this week came some of the best musical news I've heard in a while. Under the name PD Liddle, Peter has recorded a solo record (with help from some DtR friends) entitled Casual Labour, due for release later in the year via Xtra Mile Recordings. The first tune is the beautiful You Shouldn't Have Called, which made me tear up a little in the staff room at work on first listen. How good is it to have Peter back, and how beautiful are those strings? I can't wait to hear more from the record based on this first offering!

PD Liddle launches this new single and premieres plenty of new ones with a show at the wonderful OMEARA in London, with a band of familiar faces, on 13th April. Tickets on sale here from 23rd March.

Follow PD Liddle online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tuesday 20 March 2018

WATCH: Francobollo - 'Hoo Ha'

Francobollo are signed to the same indie label as Sivu, Square Leg Records (run by Sivu's producer Charlie Andrew) so I've been aware of them for a little while, but hadn't got round to listening to them until I spotted their new single in my 'Release Radar' playlist last week. Hoo Ha instantly impressed (that guitar riff!) and its video is just as bonkers and brilliant as the track itself. Now I need to go back and acquaint myself with their 2017 record Long Live Life... 

Follow Francobollo online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 19 March 2018

WATCH: Geowulf - 'Sunday'

If dreamy "beach pop" is your thing, look no further than Geowulf. They're a duo from Australia (but based in London) and they're totally beautiful. They followed debut single Saltwater (which has nearly 10 million streams on Spotify and got them quite a bit of critical acclaim) with various tracks through 2017, and their debut record Great Big Blue was released around a month ago. Perhaps one of the dreamiest of its tracks, they've recently shared the video for Sunday. I'm still completely gutted that the snow stopped me from being able to make the album launch show back in February so I'm holding out for some more gig announcements, keep your eyes peeled!

Follow Geowulf online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 16 March 2018

LISTEN: Low Island - 'This Other Life'

In the space of just over a year Low Island have made huge waves, releasing some truly unique and brilliant music, playing shows to ever-growing crowds both in the UK and further afield, and earning themselves spots on various festival line-ups. They're one of my favourite bands at the minute, and I'm ridiculously excited to share the news that their new EP This Other Life has finally been released!

They've teased us over the last few months releasing four of the six tracks as singles, and I'd like to say that they've kept back the best till last but the quality is incredibly high throughout the entire EP! Opener Too Young is one of my favourite tracks of the year and the piano lead closing track Tomorrow remains completely sublime. Make it past the half way line in the release, and you're treated to The Lines, which is a safe bet for getting everybody up and onto the dance floor. My favourite at the minute is brand new tune The Whole World Tucked Away - but I'm adoring the entire release.

The band had filmmaker Ben Ogunbiyi follow them on the Low Island and Friends tour last year, which took in shows in the likes of their hometown Oxford, London, Manchester and Barcelona. They've just shared the product of this filming, a mini-documentary for DIY Magazine. It's a really interesting insight into touring life, the tight friendships among the band and their crew, and their approach when it comes to putting on a show - collaborating with other artists in areas such as illustration, movement and design. It is this desire to collaborate, to push boundaries and work against expectations that I think will really help to make the band successful. They've made a pretty good go of things so far, but this can surely only be the start of much more exciting things to come.

You can catch Low Island playing their biggest headline show to date at Scala in London on 26th April - tickets here!

Follow Low Island online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday 15 March 2018

WATCH: Flatlands - 'Reset'

It has been far too long since I was last in Oxford after graduating back in June, but since moving home I've been keeping a beady eye on the local music scene - especially the likes of my faves Catgod, BE GOOD, and Low Island. Another local band who I caught last time I was in town are Flatlands, a young and relatively new indie quartet who are releasing a new EP, rather charmingly entitled At The Time It Made Perfect Sense, in a month's time. They're launching the EP with a show at Oxford's The Cellar on 14th April - tickets here. Check out the video for recent single Reset below!

Follow Flatlands online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 14 March 2018


I've been wanting to do interviews on here for a while, and where best to start than with one of my favourite discoveries of the last couple of years, the utterly sublime Fil Bo Riva. Traversing the boundaries between a solo project and collaborative group, they are led by 24 year old half-Italian Filippo Bonamici, who spent his youth in Ireland and studied for a while in Berlin. With a beautiful EP under their belts, they're finishing up their debut record, and are set to tour the UK and Europe in April and May to share new music. Check out the full dates and ticket info on the website here, and read my interview with Fil himself below...

(c) Juliane Spaete

Firstly (and most importantly) - how close is the album to being ready? I absolutely can not wait to hear it!

We're nearly done! There's still one or two songs to be finished but the rest is slowly going to the mixing engineer. We could have worked on it for another year but at one point you just gotta stop or else you'll keep on turning and turning around the same things for ages.

Between the utterly brilliant If You’re Right, It’s Alright EP of 2016 and the recent single Head Sonata (Love Control) you’ve already got some pretty great tunes under your belt. My go-to FBR tune is Franzis - what’s your personal favourite of the tracks already released and why?

Oh well, I guess that's a hard question since all the songs mean something to me. But right now I'm simply more into "Head Sonata" cos it's newer to my ears. But honestly I still love every single song on the EP.

Your music always strikes me as raw, emotional, and on the whole fairly heartbreaking. Where does the inspiration come from when writing? Has the shift from a solo project to a collective changed the songwriting process or any other aspects of the music?

I usually write about stuff I've gone through, other times - more on some of the new songs - I make up a little story and combine it with real stuff… so I guess it's pretty basic song writing. But the way I write my songs hasn't changed really, most of the time I still sit at home and play my guitar or the piano and then just come up with chords and melodies. That's the most beautiful part of all.

Back in 2014 you left studying behind for busking on the streets of Berlin. It sounds like a huge leap (but I’d say that it paid off!) - what gave you the courage to drop out of college at the time? At what point did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I always knew I wanted to do music or something artistic. I just wanted to create stuff and one day I noticed I had forgotten the music because of my studies so I just took a decision and started. It was hard at the start because nobody really believes in a musician in the beginning but a lotta work and a little bit of luck made it all real, and now we're here.

Would you say that busking so much in the early days helped to shape the music that you’re making now, and the way that you perform it live?

Of course, first of all that helped me to have the courage of playing in front of people. I was extremely scared about that and still am somehow, but it definitely helped me build some kind of natural feel where my head tells me not to go on stage but my stomach says the opposite. I like that battle.

You’re heading on a pretty extensive run of dates around the UK and Europe soon to promote the new single. What can we expect from the shows - plenty of new tunes I hope? Any pre-gig rituals?

Yes, fresh new tunes and the old ones as well. Before a gig we usually sing a Johnny Cash tune together, to warm us up and build the energy.

Is there anywhere that you’re especially excited to play, any cities perhaps which always bring a great crowd, or places that you’ll be visiting for the first time?

Honestly I don't really think about which crowd is the best, I noticed that every place has it's own way of communicating and interacting with the band. I really like this contrast cos it doesn't get boring!

Finally - what music is in your headphones or on your playlist at the minute? For me it’s the new Rae Morris record ‘Someone Out There’ - it’s wonderful!

I'm listening to "Pink Lemonade" by James Bay since last night, I like it a lot!

Tuesday 13 March 2018

WATCH: Public Service Broadcasting - ‘People Will Always Need Coal’

Public Service Broadcasting played one of my favourite shows of last year with the London date of their UK tour in October - their tunes hold a really special place in my heart. They've just shared a new video for People Will Always Need Coal, the latest single to be taken from their 2017 record Every Valley. The video features footage from various NCB (National Coal Board) recruitment adverts from the early and mid 1970s and fits the track perfectly. From memory I'm fairly sure that parts of the video were playing alongside the track at the show in October... their way of combining the live performance with video (both in found footage such as this, and live shots of the band) and an impressive light show is what makes their gigs so great in my opinion!

Catch the band on their next UK tour in April (no London headline this time around as they're heading to places that missed out on the last tour) - tickets for all the shows here, a couple have sold out already so be quick!

Follow Public Service Broadcasting online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 12 March 2018

WATCH: Everything Everything - 'The Mariana'

"I don't know where I have been lately, I found myself in somewhere strange."

I recently shared the new Everything Everything tune Breadwinner - it was taken from their surprise EP A Deeper Sea, which opens with the much slower, much more delicate but just as hard-hitting tune The Mariana, for which they've shared a new video. Speaking with the NME about the song, the bands singer and lyricist Jonathan Higgs explained that the title refers to the deepest part of the world's oceans, the Mariana Trench, and the song itself is "about male identity and suicide and the current crisis there is, whether you believe it or not, with being male [...] it's another way to talk about things like depression." Though I couldn't make the show because I work weekends, I'm feeling incredibly proud of the band for performing what I imagine was an incredible show at Alexandra Palace this weekend - especially after the first three shows of their tour were cancelled due to the weather a couple of weeks ago!

Follow Everything Everything online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Spector - 'Fine Not Fine'

Surprise! A new Spector EP was released on Friday, entitled Ex-Directory and featuring recent single Untitled in D and new track Fine Not Fine. The tune is described by the band's Fred Macpherson as "a stream of consciousness inspired by the more self loathing corners of sad twitter" - it's got some pretty striking lyrics ("some of your best friends are tories") and sadder themes ("I'm fine I'm fine I'm fine I'm fine I'm not fine") masked by their signature upbeat sound. Check out the full EP on Spotify here.

You can catch Spector on the Ex-Directory tour in May - they'll be heading to The Plug in Sheffiled, The Bodega in Nottingham, Thekla in Bristol, Gorilla in Manchester and Scala in London - tickets are available here.

Follow Spector online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 9 March 2018

LISTEN: Blossoms - 'I Can't Stand It'

Blossoms are back! The Stockport five-piece teased a return online by creating their own rumours of a break-up/drama within the band... but panic over, as they're very much still together, and releasing new record Cool Like You on 27th April. I'm absolutely digging the first single I Can't Stand It which was released last week. It's a bit of an instant classic which I anticipate going down really well at their live shows - they're heading out on a UK tour shortly after the album release, including a show at O2 Forum Kentish Town on 10th May, tickets on sale here from today!

Follow Blossoms online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: Sivu - 'Four Leaf Clover Love'

It's always lovely to share something new from Sivu, this time in the form of a pretty nostalgic new lyric video. The new video offering is for his tune Four Leaf Clover Love, taken from his recent EP This Unfruitful Love and it has got me feeling a sense of longing for a slightly simpler time, back when mobile phones could essentially make calls, send messages, and play Snake. It's a simple video but has me totally transfixed, and it helps that the track is utterly sublime too. Check it out below, and take a listen to the EP on Spotify here.

Follow Sivu online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 8 March 2018

LISTEN: Banfi - 'Mercy Street'

It's always lovely to hear bands and artists discuss the musicians who inspire them and whose work they admire, in a way peeling back a layer of their work to reveal some of its origin. You'd probably be hard pressed to find an interview with Banfi where they don't talk about their love of Peter Gabriel (of Genesis fame). In fact they love him so much that the second track from their upcoming EP is a cover of his tune Mercy Street, taken from his record So. Listen to the track below and keep an eye out for the EP, which is due for release on 16th March!

Banfi head out on tour next week - taking in some shows around Europe before playing Edinburgh (19th March), Manchester (20th), Bristol (21st) and London's Oslo (22nd). Tickets for all the shows are available here.

Follow Banfi online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Wriggle'

Often, music videos which look to be fairly low budget are completely endearing and look like they were probably a total blast to make - and that's certainly the case for the latest offering from the absolute genius Cosmo Sheldrake. The new video for his tune Wriggle was made by Wilm Danby and it's giving off vibes of some of the TV programmes of my early childhood. In the video, Cosmo writes, "we follow a bird as she introduces us to three separate systems and their daily tasks and habits. Sunflowers dance, ships brave the frothing seas, fish glug past volcanic vents, a scraggly bird gets eaten by a sea monster and galleons with netherworldly banditos dance and sing." The description and the video fit Cosmo's music perfectly - it's all pretty bizarre and wacky but simultaneously wonderful. Get watching/listening and look out for Cosmo's debut album The Much Much How How And I on 6th April!

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

LISTEN: Malena Zavala - 'A Vision That's Changed'

Atmospheric - that's probably the best word I've got to describe this one, the new single from Malena Zavala. I was lucky to catch Malena live a few weeks ago opening up for Sivu in London (I wrote about that stunning gig here) and can't wait for her debut record Aliso, which is due for release on 13th April via Yucatan Records. This new track builds slowly before we're introduced to a dreamy-guitar solo and layered vocals, resulting in a stunning tune that is warm to the core. It's a pretty promising sign of things to come from the record - keep an ear out for it! Catch Malena opening up for FIL BO RIVA at his London headliner on 17th April - tickets here.

Follow Malena Zavala online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: The Vaccines - 'Put It On a T-Shirt'

With less than four weeks until the new record from The Vaccines is released I'm beginning to get pretty excited - particularly as I'll be seeing the band perform tracks from the record and signing copies at HMV Oxford Street on album release day, 30th March!

The new record Combat Sports features the singles Nightclub and I Can't Quit, alongside brand new track Put It On a T-Shirt. If these three singles are anything to go by, the record is going to be a solid contender for one of my favourite records of the year, alongside the likes of recent releases from The Wombats, MGMT, Rae Morris and Geowulf. Check out a live performance video of the new tune below and pre-order signed copies of the record here!

Follow The Vaccines online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

LISTEN: Gengahr - 'Where Wildness Grows'

Their recent single Before Sunrise has been one of my favourite tracks of the year so far and I am really looking forward to hearing the Gengahr record in full when it's released this Friday! To keep the excitement levels up and tease us a little more, they've shared the title track Where Wildness Grows which is completely, mind-bogglingly sublime. Such a beautiful vocal performance from Felix!

Once the album is out in the world, the Gengahr chaps are heading out on the road, first for a mini tour of record stores to play and sign copies of the record next week, then on a full UK tour in April/May. As if releasing an album and touring the UK and Europe weren't enough, they're also curating their second exhibition with their own artwork and that of fellow musicians Mystery Jets, Alt-J, Marika Hackman, Slaves, Puppy, Toothless and more from 15th to 20th March at A-Side B-Side Gallery (details.)

Follow Gengahr online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Gizmo Varillas - 'Losing You'

"I like the idea of sad lyrics with happy music. It balances things out." 

I'm a little late sharing this track (I've been sorting out my submissions inbox and couldn't archive this one without sharing), the recent single from Gizmo Varillas, the first from his second album Dreaming of Better Days, released 25th May via Muisca Records. The tune, entitled Losing You, was written in response to shootings at a nightclub in Orlando in 2016. Speaking about the track, Varillas says that “I was really touched by what I saw on the train that same day [...] I was on my way to work, and I saw two men sitting opposite me, crying, holding hands. I must have internalised that, and the next day the song just flew out of my mouth, word for word. I used the name Maribel as a way of putting myself into the shoes of one of the Latin mothers who lost their child. That song is basically a letter to her. The sad lyrics provide some sort of depth, and the happy music gives reassurance.”

I first discovered Gizmo back in 2016, opening up for Jack Savoretti at Somerset House, and saw him open again for Jack almost exactly a year ago at Hoxton Hall and was really impressed on both occasions. While on first listen the majority of his tunes appear feel-good due to the rhythms contained within, the joyful music is "often undercut by wistful melodies or recognitions of life's grimmer elements." This was true of his debut album El Dorado, and is a theme which continues onto the upcoming record, which is said to "acknowledge mankind's darker sides, and seeks to find light therein." Check out the first single below!

Gizmo plays an album launch show at London's The Lexington on 21st May (tickets here) with more dates to follow!

Follow Gizmo Varillas - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 5 March 2018

LISTEN: George Taylor - 'Stay Warm'

With the current weather, a song that opens with the lines "when you're walking in the winter, with the snow beneath your feet, when you feel the cold and shiver" seems pretty relevant - though it looks like the snow has all gone for the start of a new week! Stay Warm is the new single from George Taylor, a showcase of his beautifully soulful vocals and honest songwriting. This is theme through all his singles to date - as Taylor writes, "it all comes down to honesty for me [...] I always really believe in what I'm singing. I'm putting everything out on the table. I hope they hear it's real." 

He describes this new single as being "a song about longing for someone that you can't be there for", it's heartbreaking and compassionate - listen below. It's also on my chill/folk playlist - follow that here.

Follow George Taylor online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 2 March 2018

LISTEN: Rae Morris - 'Someone Out There'

I haven't posted an album recommendation in a while, but couldn't resist rambling a little about just how brilliant this record is for much longer. Almost exactly three years after sharing her beautiful debut Unguarded, the absolute star Rae Morris released its follow up Someone Out There at the start of February, and I love it. You can listen to Rae giving a track by track explanation of the record below...

The singles shared before the release were fairly promising but I was completely blown away upon listening to the record the whole way through for the first time. To be honest, it exceeded my expectations and in the month since its release I've listened to the record an immeasurable number of times, with each listen bringing something new with it. I'm finding myself relating to a lot of the tracks for various reasons and feeling quite intense emotions upon listening, something I'm not really used to - at times over the last few weeks it has felt as if Rae had managed to write tracks describing exactly how I'm feeling, capturing it better than I ever could have. There have unashamedly been more than a few tears shed to a couple of the tunes, but most of all I'm completely in awe of the record as a whole, describing it to anyone who will listen as a work of art and my favourite album of the year so far. I think what I love most of all is that Rae seems to be incredibly humble - I don't think that she's aware of just how good she is.

The record is a bit of a sonic change for Rae and I have to wonder whether I'd have really given the record a chance if I hadn't already been a fan of Rae's music - it's far more pop-oriented than most of my usual listening. That said - I completely adore the record. The production is incredibly strong, each tune seeming simultaneously so powerful yet so delicately put together. The lyrics are impressive throughout, telling beautiful and often heartbreaking stories, and nowhere is this more true than in the the likes of Rose Garden and the closing track Dancing With Character (listen to the lyrics closely and tell me you don't tear up.) There are some really lively, upbeat tracks like the singles Atletico (The Only One) and Do It and one of my personal favourites, the absolute tune Dip My Toe. Other favourites include the complete tearjerker (for me, anyway) Wait For The Rain and Lower The Tone - but there really aren't any weak links within the record.

Put short I think that the album is incredible, a shoe-in for a Mercury Prize nomination (surely?) and I would love to give Rae and Fryars a big hug for bringing me so much joy with the record. Check it out here and make your own mind up, and grab tickets for Rae's tour here.

Follow Rae Morris online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Thandii - 'Another One'

Summer vibes at the ready for this one! I had the total joy of running the door for a headline Tom Figgins gig last April where Thandii opened the evening with a beautifully dreamy set - I recognised her at the time from singing with the wonderful Seramic a few weeks before, and I've since seen her in live videos for Mr Jukes. She works with some pretty cool artists, but she's stepping out as a soloist with a bold sound, making an "attempt to put a female stamp on an otherwise male-dominated sound."

Filled with dreamy 70s psychedelic vibes, elements of jazz and disco - and a harp - this new tune is intricately layered. The track was produced, written and recorded in Margate, where Thandii relocated from London after a late night bet... she describes it as "a kind of west coast on the east coast [...] Margate has been incredible." You can hear her chatting about the importance of the local scene to her own music in an interview with BBC Music Introducing In Kent's Abbie McCarthy here, when the track was made their record of the week in February!

Follow Thandii online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 1 March 2018

LISTEN: 10 O'Clock Chemical - 'Babylon Is Fallen'

Who doesn't love a synth? Describing their sound as "spiky electronic pop with a bass and funk emulsion", Stoke-on-Trent's 10 O'Clock Chemical have shared their debut single Babylon Is Fallen and it's a bit of a tune. The band are made up of songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist Rhys, drummer Danny, bassist Josh and guitarist Jack, with the four of them meeting through Stoke's music scene and finding that they shared a love for rock and electronica. They've been in the studio for over a year working on their debut EP, due in June, and this is the first release from it, a pretty promising debut which was produced by Matt Johnson (Jamiroquai) and mixed by Adrian Bushby (MuseFoo Fighters).

While on the surface the track is a quality slice of electro-pop, delve deeper and you find that it explores the "edgy uncertainty of contemporary life". The band describe that it is "about the unveiling of illusion and the birth of skepticism [...] It's a cry for liberty in the midst of our activities being increasingly surveyed, our speech policed and a call to revolt against the mundane order I believe has been put there by a much higher, darker source of power." 

Follow 10 O'Clock Chemical online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Christof van der Ven - 'Killed This Stone-Dead'

I had the total honour of seeing Christof van der Ven perform live last week, supporting Adam Barnes at his album launch show. From the couple of EPs which are available on Spotify and the recent single Empty Handed, I was already aware of the beauty he is able to create in a song, but was pretty taken aback by his opening track, which at the time reminded me a little of early Bon Iver (who funnily enough, Christof opened for on Monday evening.) Fast forward a couple of days and the tune, entitled Killed This Stone-Dead, was released as the second single from his upcoming debut album, which is released alongside debuts from Isaac Gracie and Bryde on (Friday) 13th April! Really love this and genuinely can't wait to hear the record! 

Follow Christof van der Ven - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.