Wednesday 30 January 2019

ALBUM NEWS: Bear's Den - 'So that you might hear me'

What's better than a new Bear's Den track to kick off your Wednesday, I hear you ask... how about TWO new tracks from the lads?! They're back (finally!) with the album to follow up 2016's glorious Red Earth & Pouring Rain and I'm delighted. So that you might hear me is set for release on 26th April via Communion Records and they've shared two tracks from the record today, as well as a full track listing and some tour dates!

The album was recorded in Seattle with Phil Ek  (Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty) and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Metronomy) and is described as "both bold and exposed, intimate yet expansive". The two singles display this essence perfectly. Standing alone, the tracks feel as if they'd have a home in different genres, but in the context of the upcoming album I feel this shows us a band who are confident enough to explore their musicality - and they've earned that confidence.

Fuel On The Fire makes use of pulsing drum machine beats and electric guitars and is reminiscent of the band's last, more electronic, record, while Blankets Of Sorrow is a far more intimate track, drawing links more closely to the band's debut album Islands. In both tracks and the record more generally "a need for connection lies at the heart." I for one am very glad to have the guys back and can't wait to hear more from the record!

The Bear's Den live show is a joy to behold, and if you're digging the new tracks you should most definitely grab a ticket to the upcoming shows, UK dates as follows: Rock City, Nottingham (9th April); Academy, Dublin (10th); Limelight 1, Belfast (11th); Barrowlands, Glasgow (13th); Albert Hall, Manchester (14th); O2 Academy, Bristol (16th); O2 Guildhall, Southampton (17th); Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (23rd).  Check out ticket info & Europe/US/Canada dates on the site here.

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Tuesday 29 January 2019

LISTEN: VC Pines - 'Vixen'

Jack Mercer has been sharing tracks for the past year or so under the moniker VC Pines, garnering attention from the likes of BBC Radio's Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne and Huw Stephens and rightly so. His intensely personal lyrics and unique blend of alternative soul has me really digging new track Vixen, which Jack describes as being "about mental vacancy", going on to explain that "I'd been focused so much on my music for months and months and months and had kind of forgotten people that were most important in my life." 

Knowing of Jack's experiences of epilepsy and chromesthesia (whereby sounds can evoke an experience of colour) helps to unlock the track's meaning - Jack explains that "the song is a statement to say that even if I'm vacant minded here and there, and seem like just a shell, not to worry about me. Mental vacancy is also something that can happen to me physically as a symptom of epilepsy, but I'm always okay after a seizure and it's not something that will be the end of me." 

Following a few years as the frontman of indie rock band The Carnabys, Jack has built up a reputation as an impressive live performer, which he has carried with him to VC Pines shows, which sometimes feature a 7-piece live band. If you're digging the track like I am, see what all the fuss is about on April 3rd when he headlines The Lexington in London (event page here).

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Monday 28 January 2019

LISTEN: Matthew And The Atlas - 'Pyres'

I often ramble about my love for the independent label Communion... they're brilliant and they always deserve the praise, constantly delivering music and shows from some of the most exciting new bands out there. Their first ever signing was the total legend Matthew And The Atlas, very quickly hailed by Q Magazine as a "British Bon Iver" and deservedly so. Last year, I caught Matt and the band performing in the beautiful surroundings of a Church in Shepherd's Bush for the label's Bushstock Festival, I was volunteering in the venue and it was a little overwhelming to be standing around in the 'backstage' area while members of the band came and went. The set was glorious.

I am delighted to hear that Matt is releasing his brand new album Morning Dancer on 10th May and absolutely can not get enough of the first single Pyres. Musically it's a far cry from his early acoustic offerings of 2010, and even the Cali and Palace EPs of 2017, but this is in no way a bad thing. Matt's unmistakable vocals shine through the track, with gorgeous harmonies and as Communion themselves describe it, "illustrious brass interjections" which need to be heard to believe. I've essentially had this track on repeat on my 2019: cool music and things playlist all weekend.

Matthew And The Atlas are heading out on a UK tour in May to celebrate the release of Morning Dancer, full dates are as follows: Patterns, Brighton (12th May); The Fleece, Bristol (13th); The Globe, Cardiff (14th); Omeara, London (16th); Bodega, Nottingham (17th); The Castle & Falcon, Birmingham (18th); Arts Centre, Norwich (20th); Deaf Institute, Manchester (21st); Leaf, Liverpool (22nd); The Wardrobe, Leeds (24th); Stereo, Glasgow (27th); Mash House, Edinburgh (28th); Voodoo, Belfast (29th); Grand Social, Dublin (30th). Grab tickets for all those shows here!

Follow Matthew And The Atlas - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify.

LISTEN: Florence + The Machine - 'Moderation'

"Want me to love you in moderation. Do I look moderate to you?" 

From the first listen I was absolutely loving this surprise new (and fairly sassy) track from Florence + The Machine, the first release from the band since the superb 2018 record High As Hope, their fourth studio album. Moderation opens with the pounding of a piano, set against Florence's beautifully unique vocals asking "Who do you think you're talking to?" The fast tempo of the track places it more closely to the sound of second and third albums Ceremonials and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. B-side Haunted House falls closer to the latest record in its sound, in that it is a short and sweet piano ballad, with gorgeous harmonies which are anything but haunting. Always a treat to have new music from Florence!

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Friday 25 January 2019

LISTEN: Roman Lewis - 'Just A Woman'

When I found this new Roman Lewis track in my inbox I really liked what I was hearing, though the name was entirely new to me. Fast forward a week to sitting down to write this post and I've noticed his name popping up in various places... he's been played in the Communion show in Radio X this weekend as their Making Waves artist, supported the total heroes Blaenavon on their Omeara show earlier this week and has promo shots taken by the legend Hollie Fernando (genuinely one of the best photographers out there and a lovely person to boot!) Pretty impressive, I think... then I discover he's just 17 years old (and naturally, feel old myself at the ripe old age of 22.)

Following the release of a number of well-received singles in 2018, Roman is releasing debut EP Heartbreak (for now) today, a 7-track compilation confidently placing him as a new songwriter to watch out for. Latest single Just A Woman is the most reserved of the tracks, with his voice set against the quiet sounds of an acoustic guitar. Utterly composed throughout, it's a romantic ode to a woman that shows us love is complex, with the protagonist declaring "it's been a year, but I'd spend a million more with you my dear" and receiving the response "you're not thinking clear, you know how feelings disappear." 

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LISTEN: Maggie Rogers releases 'Heard It In A Past Life'

So I've had a week to reflect on what I'm pretty sure will be one of my favourite records of 2019 (you heard it here...) and I am desperate to recommend it to as many people who will listen. I have very rapidly fallen pretty hard for Maggie Rogers. From her energetic, carefree performances to her beautiful lyrics and catchy hooks, there's a lot going on and a whole lot to enjoy.

It took me a couple of years of hearing her name on various line-ups and playlists and adding a couple of her tracks to my own playlists to take a proper listen to Maggie, once she was announced as opening act for Mumford & Sons on their recent UK arena tour. I was hooked pretty quickly. Her set at the Nottingham show presented a humble young artist at a relatively early stage in her career exuding the confidence and stage presence of a rockstar. She looked completely at ease in front of the arena crowd, but was clearly not taking any of it for granted.

Maggie's early track Alaska went viral after a video of her impressing none other than Pharell Williams with the track at a masterclass at her university surfaced online. She's been building momentum since that, performing on various America TV shows (most recently an incredible performance of Burning for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Light On for The Ellen Show), touring around the world and releasing the hugely acclaimed Now That The Light Is Fading EP.

Finally, for both Maggie and her thousands of adoring fans, her debut album Heard It In A Past Life was released last Friday. After a few (OK, several) listens I can confirm that it is 45 minutes of solid joy, a pop masterpiece as it were. The likes of already well loved singles Alaska, Give A Little and Light On all feature, alongside new tunes such as the almost-title-track Past Life, a raw and honest piano-led ballad which really showcases her gorgeous vocals. Elsewhere, Burning has become a new favourite of mine while closing track Back In My Body is an empowering tune that I can't get enough of - and then, without realising, the album has restarted and I'm enjoying it all over again.

In the run up to the release of the album, Maggie shared this live session video she performed last year in Paris for La Blogothèque. It's a glorious, heartwarming version of Light On which made me feel all fuzzy inside and I hope it makes you feel the same! I truly can't implore you to listen to her record enough - check it out on Spotify here and grab your copy from your local independent store.

Follow Maggie Rogers - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 24 January 2019

LISTEN: Oscar Jerome - 'Misty Head / Sunny Street'

I first heard South London artist Oscar Jerome last year through his EP Where Are Your Branches? which featured the gloriously saxophone-laden Smile On A Screen. He had a pretty busy 2018, proving to be someone to watch in London's growing jazz scene. He's been featured on v ariosu playlists, supported by the likes of 6 Music and 1Xtra, sold out London's Village Underground and toured consistently through the year, including a recent run of US shows.

Understandably, Oscar is keen to build on this momentum and has kicked off 2019 with new single Misty Head / Sunny Street. Elements of jazz combine with the influences of funk and hip-hop to create something truly glorious. So well layered is the track that each listen provides something new. That bassline, especially, is a piece of art in itself. Talking of the track, Oscar says that "this ones a little funky number I wrote when in a confused but happy state. I have to give a shout out to Maxwell Owin for helping with the production on this too, one of my best friends and favourite music makers." 

Everything points to 2019 being Oscar's year, so you're going to want to catch his upcoming shows so that you can be smug when he's playing much bigger venues... he's heading out in Europe for a short tour in February, including a date at London's wonderful EartH in Hackney on 20th February. Grab your tickets here.

Follow Oscar Jerome - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

WATCH: Fil Bo Riva - 'Go Rilla / L'Over' (Cardinal Sessions)

He's one of my favourite musical discoveries of the past few years and 22nd March honestly can't come quickly enough so that you can all listen to Fil Bo Riva's debut record. I'm incredibly lucky to have had a listen to the record already and can tell you that it's as brilliant as I'd hoped it would be! More on that closer to the release... For now, here's a beautiful acoustic session for Cardinal Sessions with Fil and the band performing recent singles Go Rilla and L'Over. The recordings are going to be part of a special acoustic EP released alongside a special edition of the album in March!

Pre-order your copy of the record here, and check out Fil's upcoming tour dates, including London's Oslo Hackney on May 1st here.
Follow Fil Bo Riva - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

LISTEN: Malihini - 'Delusional Boy'

Rome-based lo-fi pop duo Mahilini (Giampaolo Speziale and Federica Caiozzo) have shared their new track Delusional Boy, taken from their upcoming debut album Hopefully, Again. The record is due for release via Memphis Industries on 8th March - it's shaping up to be a brilliant day for new releases with records from Foals, Stella Donnelly, Indoor Pets and Ten Fé due then too! The record was written in Sicily and recorded at the remote Giant Wafer Studios in Wales, produced by Richard Formby (Wild Beasts, Ghostpoet) and subsequently mixed by Ewan Pearson.

The duo, who both contribute to the writing process, traverse the line between creating incredibly personal tracks about their own experiences as a couple, and delivering their fans with universally relatable lyrics. In this particular song I am very much a fan of the overriding guitar rhythm that weaves it's way through the track, proving almost as catchy as the chorus itself is. The blend of the pair's vocals is pretty beautiful too.

In press I received for the track, the story of the pair meeting read so much like a TV show or movie that I just have to share... they first met around 5am one morning back in 2015, when Speziale was driving back to Rome and picked up Caiozzo hitchhiking - "I took her home - she was having a hard time with her ex-boyfriend [...] I didn't see her again for two or three months, but then we met by chance at a concert. We sort of avoided each other at first... eventually we spoke and later we went back to her house. We've been together ever since." It took a while for the pair to work together artistically, initially deciding not to play or sing together at all, but on a trip through Europe, they decided "Why not? So we started writing ideas for songs and ended up playing shows together in small bars along the way."

Pre-order Hopefully, Again from Malihini here!

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Monday 21 January 2019

LISTEN: Ferris & Sylvester - 'Sickness'

New Ferris & Sylvester is always cause for celebration! The duo have been turning heads across the board for the last year or so with their beautiful blend of the sounds of folk and blues, supporting the likes of George Ezra, Robert Plant and Eric Clapton and garnering immense support from BBC Introducing, leading to the recent announcement of a show at the BBC Music showcase at SXSW Festival. It's been around a year since the release of their Made In Streatham EP, a self-produced and kitchen recorded effort that gave us the total tune Better In Yellow. Though I love that EP this new track is in my opinion their best yet - it's a slow burner to begin, but builds to deliver an incredibly powerful and intense second half.

Writing of the song, the band say that "Sickness was one of the first songs we wrote together [...] It's about human relationships - the power and the frustration - and the desire to throw it all away. We recorded the track on our last day in the studio with Michael Rendall (Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney & Echo & The Bunnymen) and continued into the early hours; it felt important to keep it raw and let the song speak for itself [...] a lot of it was recorded in one take, the guitar solo and vocals for instance. It's our proudest piece of work to date."

If you like what you're hearing, here's a friendly reminder that the duo head out on their first ever headline tour in February, with a nine date tour across the UK and Ireland, including London's The Lexington on February 11th. Find more details of that here.

Follow Ferris & Sylvester - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 18 January 2019

WATCH: Dizzy - 'Bleachers'

Canadian four-piece Dizzy have been on my radar and in my headphones since I followed a friend along to their late night set at The Great Escape last May, where I was instantly mesmerised by their powerful yet almost subtle and understated lead vocalist Katie Munshaw. The group also comprises of brothers Charlie, Alex and Mackenzie Spencer - they're all from the suburb of Oshawa, Ontario. They originally started to make music to "combat the anxieties of the vortex of boredom" - for Dizzy, "having the suburbs as their playground for experience encouraged them to explore music and art outside of what was right in front of them - and to create their own." As Katie says of living in modern suburbia, "Oshawa introduced me to friendship and heartache and change while keeping me bored enough to sit at home and write about it." 

The resulting album is Baby Teeth, which very quickly became one of my favourite debut albums of 2018. The band have just shared the visuals for Bleachers, a track which Katie describes as being a love song for her little sister and "about how much I worry about her in this big messy world." Directed by Ryan Faist, the video features Super 8 footage filmed by Katie's sister Beth of her and her friends in Oshawa. On the surface, it's a sweet, almost nostalgic video but dig a little deeper and there's an overriding worry for the future nestled in the footage, as an actress playing an older Beth relies on assistance to breathe safely. Perhaps pessimistic and reminiscent of a dystopian reality, but is it really that difficult to imagine that it could be the situation in fifty years time?

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LISTEN: Candy Says - 'Running Up That Hill'

Oxford's Beanie Tapes (yep, you guessed - a cassette tape label releasing music from a host of brilliant local artists including Premium Leisure and Max Blansjaar exclusively to tape - check them out!) have sent me some rather exciting news about their own band Candy Says. They've only gone and recorded two brand new tracks for new Netflix film Close, which is released today and stars Noomi Rapace! Watch a trailer here.

For the opening credits of the film, the duo were asked by the film's Oxford-based director Vicky Jewson to record a version of Kate Bush's classic Running Up That Hill which fit the mood of the film (in which "to protect an heiress from highly trained kidnappers, a lone security expert (Rapace) must unravel a sinister plot - while striving to stay alive.") They have most certainly risen to the challenge - and then some! Working with the film's composer Marc Canham, with whom they'd previously worked on the Netflix film Burn Burn Burn, the duo have created a really intense and mysterious soundscape to mirror the themes of the film. Perhaps most excitingly - the cover has the approval of Kate Bush herself!

Candy Says are due to release their new EP You Are Beautiful; We Are All Beautiful online in April alongside a UK tour. The EP was released physically in Oxford at the end of 2018, proving to be Beanie Tapes best release to date - selling out its first pressing in a day, and the second in a week, with local music magazine Nightshift giving the lead track a rave review.

Follow Candy Says - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 17 January 2019

WATCH: Johnny Flynn - 'Fol-De-Rol' (Live at The Roundhouse)

Johnny Flynn's gig at The Roundhouse towards the end of 2017 remains one of the best nights of live music I've experienced (it was the night I discovered Cosmo Sheldrake after all!) I adore the live album which was released a couple of months back - as far as I know, it's the first time a show I was at has been recorded and released in this way so it's pretty exciting! The vinyl version of the album is a 3LP release and features photos from the show of Johnny and his band, as well as a description of why the show meant so much to the band. As Johnny writes, "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." At the show, live visuals provided the back-drop for the band, reacting to the noise levels and giving the show something really unique. The visuals for Fol-De-Rol have been released recently and the video is certainly worth a watch!

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Wednesday 16 January 2019

LISTEN: Park Hotel - 'Make It Happen'

It's little under a year and a half since I first posted about the duo Park Hotel with their second single, Going West - I found it pretty irresistible when it made its way into the blog's inbox and have been enjoying hearing what the band have been working on since then! Thankfully, it's almost time for them to finally release an EP into the world - very much a cause for celebration! The Nothing To Lose EP is due for release on 30th January and the duo have shared the second track, Make It Happen. Listen now!

Follow Park Hotel online - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

WATCH: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'There, Before Me' (live from Old Jet)

Stressful day? Take four minutes to yourself and watch this. It's the second of a series of live videos from modern classical duo Pêtr Aleksänder filmed in Suffolk by cinematographer (and Tempesst drummer, no less) Andy Banjanin and the team at Really Bright Media. The setting for the videos is Old Jet, an ex-military base which has been given a new lease of life as an arts centre with rehearsal space, studios and storage facilities. This latest video features the track There, Before Me, which is taken from their upcoming debut album, and true to form is an incredibly peaceful tune. Keep an eye out for the rest of the live videos, and if you enjoy this, be sure to keep February 15th free as they'll be opening for Bess Atwell alongside Richard Walters in the beautiful surroundings of London's St Pancras Old Church (tickets for that here.)

Follow Pêtr Aleksänder - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 14 January 2019

LISTEN: Rhys Lewis - 'Better Than Today'

I added the first tracks to my 2019 playlist a few days ago - be sure to follow for my favourite songs throughout the year! I've also started a secondary 'acoustic/folk/chilled' playlist where I'll be sharing all my fave sad/slow songs through the year. Kicking off that one is this beautifully sad but hopeful new tune from Rhys Lewis, Better Than Today. In a post online, Rhys describes the track as being written "to help ease my anxiety about the future and remind myself that despite what the headlines can lead you to believe sometimes, I know there are more good people in the world than bad. I've put my heart and soul into this song, I hope it can be some kind of comfort if you ever feel hopeless or helpless with the way the world turns at the minute." If you like what you're hearing, Rhys' Bad Timing EP is certainly worth a listen while we eagerly await news of his debut album!

Follow Rhys Lewis - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 11 January 2019

ALBUM NEWS: Lucy Rose - 'No Words Left'

It feels as if album announcements are coming in thick and thin at the moment - with new records from James Blake, SOAK and Luke Sital-Singh just announced you won't find me complaining! The latest news comes from Lucy Rose, who releases No Words Left, the follow up to the beautiful 2017 record Something's Changing, on 22nd March. The album's opening track Conversation is (as is to be expected) utterly sublime - get listening! 

You can pre-order the record through Lucy's site here, and while you're there check out the dates for her UK tour which sees her play London's Union Chapel, not a show to be missed!

Follow Lucy Rose - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 10 January 2019

WATCH: Stella Donnelly - 'Old Man'

A belated happy new year to you all! I've had a couple of weeks away from the blog but I'm back and feeling very excited about the music that is set to be released this year! New albums from Fil Bo Riva, Jack Savoretti, Busted and Maggie Rogers are all incoming within the next few months, Foals are teasing two new records (!) and there is so much more to look forward to, no doubt. The new releases continue coming in quickly... Aussie Stella Donnelly has announced that her debut album Beware Of The Dogs will be released on 8th March and has shared the first track, Old Man.

I caught Stella on a whim down in Brighton at The Great Escape festival last year and absolutely loved her set. She pulls no punches in both her songs and her on stage banter, and delivered a set of sad songs with some pretty dark but important messages, with Boys Will Be Boys (taken from the Thrush Metal EP) addressing the sexual assault of a friend. New tune Old Man follows much the same defiant path, and leaves me eagerly awaiting the record.

Like what you're hearing? Pre-order Beware Of The Dogs here and grab tickets to Stella's upcoming UK shows across April and May here.

Follow Stella Donnelly - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.