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.