Tuesday 30 April 2019

LISTEN: Lucy Rose - 'No Words Left'

"song after song after song, all about me, and my misery"

Just over a month ago, the inimitable singer-songwriter Lucy Rose released her fourth studio album into the world. From first listen I had a lot of love for this record, about which Lucy wrote "these songs have allowed me to get to know myself in a way I haven't before and I'm sure after you listen to it you'll end up knowing me better as well." I'm a little late in sharing it, but in case the release passed you by I want to tell you that No Words Left is truly a gem of a record.

It's a gorgeously raw album, centring around Lucy's vocals, guitar, piano and strings. No drums! Intimate and staggeringly personal, the record explores issues of anxiety, isolation and uncertainty without any sugarcoating. It feels like Lucy is pulling us into her world and letting us know that the struggles we might be feeling aren't just our own. At just 36 minutes in length the album should definitely be listened to as a whole - this is helped along by a supporting video showing Lucy performing each of the tracks, directed by Chris McGill which you can watch below.

Having just finished a UK tour, Lucy's only remaining UK headline show of the year is on 4th December (it'll be here soon enough...) at no less than the Barbican Centre. Tickets for that and a full list of her upcoming shows worldwide here.

Follow Lucy Rose - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: MF Tomlinson - 'Nature Boy'

After catching a beautiful Tusks set earlier on the Bear's Den tour I was excited to see that she had brought the full band along for the London show last Tuesday, and I really enjoyed their set. The next day I sat down to listen to some submissions and a face in an email looked familiar... and sure enough, Tusks' guitarist Michael Tomlinson was staring at me through the screen. He's just shared his debut single under the moniker MF Tomlinson - but is keen to stress that this is very much a group effort.

New cut Nature Boy features some rather glorious flute solos courtesy of Ami Koda (who is in the single artwork alongside Michael), vocals from Connie Chatwin, was co-written with Angus James (keys) and developed alongside Ed Grimshaw (drums). On the track, MF Tomlinson describes it as "a reckoning with the situation we find ourselves in... growth and acceptance faces opposition from a sometimes heart-breaking reality. [...] We're all the hero in our own stories - you could think about it as a theme song for a hopeful person in a fucked up world."

MF Tomlinson headlines The Lexington in London on May 22nd - tickets here.

Follow MF Tomlinson - Facebook | Instagram.

Monday 29 April 2019

WATCH: Valley Maker - 'Supernatural'

If you've been following the blog for a while (or, admittedly, any length of time as I ramble about them a lot) you'll know that I'm quite a fan of the label Communion, which started as a monthly live music night at Notting Hill Arts Club back in 2006. Almost exactly two years ago I headed to one of these nights - I was there primarily to catch MarthaGunn and Harry Pane but know that I can trust the Communion guys to curate a solid line-up.

I checked out the rest of the line-up beforehand, and I was most looking forward to seeing Valley Maker, AKA Seattle-based Austin Crane. Unfortunately some crazy traffic delays meant I missed his set, but I've kept an ear out since and enjoyed his record Rhododendron last year. I'm super excited to say that he's back with his first new release of 2019, the gorgeous new track Supernatural which was recorded with Novo Amor in Cardiff and Trevor Spencer in Wales. The track has an equally stunning video directed by Joseph Kolean and Zach Gutierrez which you can check out below...

Follow Valley Maker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

ALBUM NEWS: The Black Keys - 'Let's Rock'

This is not a drill. The Black Keys are back. It's been a long old wait since the release of their eighth studio album Turn Blue back in 2014 - especially as they had to cancel a show I had tickets booked for - I'm still not over that. The duo made a surprise return with new single Lo/Hi back in March and have followed it up with Eagle Birds and news of their brand new record Let's Rock. Written, tracked lived and produced by the duo at Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville, the record is due for release on June 28th - a belated birthday present for me which I absolutely can not wait for! Check out the new single below, and pre-order the record here. Now to sit tight and wait for UK shows!

Follow The Black Keys - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday 28 April 2019

WATCH Swimming Girls - '1 2 Many'

Swimming Girls are one of my favourite new bands of the last couple of years and it is always a joy to see that they are releasing new music - I'm loving 1 2 Many, their first new music for the year. I caught the band last May at The Great Escape and loved the tracks Beneath YouAsking For It and Back of Your Car which they released across the year. The new single follows in the waves those tracks made - support tours with Fickle Friends and Pale Waves for one - and is accompanied by a superb new video featuring lead singer Vanessa.

Some pretty exciting news to add - sitting down to write this I've just seen news that the band have come in the top three of the Emerging Talent Competition for Glastonbury Festival. Thousands of entries were whittled down to a longlist of 90 by online music writers, and a shortlist of 8 acts played for judges on Saturday evening. As runners up, they'll receive a talent development bursary from the PRS Foundation and get a slot at the festival, so a huge well done to the band!!

They've just announced a couple of headline shows - grab tickets for those and check their upcoming festival performances out on the Yucatan Records site here.

10th June: Exchange, Bristol
11th June: The Lexington, London

Follow Swimming Girls - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: Hailaker - 'Not Much'

With their self-titled debut album due for release this Friday (3rd May) Hailaker have shared the latest single with a beautifully animated video. Describing themselves as less a band and more a fluid and open-ended project, Hailaker's principal members and founders are Jemima Coulter and Ed Tullett, both solo artists in their own right. Contributions from Ali Lacey of Novo Amor and Mike Roth, an Oregon-based artist who handles their artwork, make for a really exciting project.

The new track explores the idea of seeing somebody that you love going through an illness, be it mental or physical, and the strain that this can put on you, despite knowing that the person with the illness is going through something much worse. The lyrical themes are reflected in the accompanying video which is the work of videographer Lokyu. The animation focuses on a character who is at work building and fixing a city, which is later revealed to be on a woman's back. The more he tries to fix the structures, the more we see them continue to disintegrate, reflective of the feelings of frustration and helplessness that you feel when you can't help somebody through an illness.

Pre-order the self-titled debut album from Hailaker here - it is due for release on Friday 3rd May.

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Saturday 27 April 2019

LISTEN: Honey Moon - 'If I Could Only Dream'

Having loved their Four More From... EP last year I was excited to see that Honey Moon are back with a new single and from the first jangly guitar notes you can't help but feel uplifted by this one, a crooning slice of retro-pop! After a busy few months of touring, If I Could Only Dream is their first release of the year, recorded with Alex Greaves at Leeds studio The Nave and released via Manchester label Heist or Hit. On the track, lead vocalist Jack Slater Chandler explains that it is "about change, transition and wishful thinking. It's about trying to right some wrongs. Sounds quite corny for someone in their mid-twenties but it was written during a cycle of change in my life that needed documenting in some way, and ended up in a sweet ditty. A sunny little pop song."

Following a headline show at London's Sebright Arms yesterday and a slot at today's Are You Listening? festival in Reading, they play the following shows soon:

21st May: Oslo, London (with Trudy and the Romance)
28th May: Crofters Rights, Bristol (with Trudy and the Romance)
8th June: Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Follow Honey Moon - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 26 April 2019

LISTEN: Benedict Benjamin - 'Tell Me If You're Lonely'

Benedict Benjamin has shared new single Tell Me If You're Lonely, the latest track to be taken from his upcoming second album Truant (due for release May 3rd.) The track sees a sixties-esque guitar refrain and slightly psychedelic vibes soundtracking a desire for irresponsibility with the track's closing line "I feel stuck in my life, if you feel the same come on by, I would like something better to do." Much of the record explores Ben's experiences after the birth of his daughter and the joys and challenges of parenthood, and on this track he describes it being "a song about longing to be irresponsible and do stupid self indulgent shit because you don't feel good about yourself. I think it was on my mind because we were expecting a baby and I was aware that I couldn't do that anymore and it freaked me out."

Catch Ben playing live at the following dates, including his album launch show in London on Tuesday.

April 30th: The Islington, London
May 2nd: YES, Manchester (supporting Rozi Plain)
May 3rd: Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool
May 4th: Ocean Arts Centre, Cardiff
May 5th: Resident, Brighton (instore)
May 10th: The Great Escape, Brighton

Follow Benedict Benjamin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 25 April 2019

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

"I guess I was just trying to say that I have this fear that if you don't say that you're having a good time, no one will ever know. And I wanna tell you guys that this has been one of the best nights of our lives so thank you all so much for coming." 

Davie from Bear's Den there, being entirely unassuming and humble at the first of their two sold out shows at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on Tuesday, a show which they described from the stage as a "homecoming" (they used to live nearby) at one of their favourite venues. With tracks from their brand new record So that you might hear me (out tomorrow!!) in tow among favourites from Islands (2014) and Red Earth & Pouring Rain (2016) the band had a triumphant return to the London stage... and they even played my favourite track, Magdalene. As a huge fan of the band, the fact that I've had a stream of the new album sitting in my inbox for six weeks is slightly mind-blowing, and easily a highlight of the last few years of rambling on the blog. I'm going to attempt a review but put simply, and echoing the sentiments of my write-up of the recent Nottingham gig: I adore this band and after many (many) listens the record is finding a very special place in my heart.

(c) Sequoia Ziff

Taking a break after four years of non-stop touring, the band set up the Josiah Booth Studios in North London last year to work on new music. While their debut album established them firmly in the folk realm of touring buddies Mumford & Sons the second album saw them employ the use of electric guitars and synths to explore a new sound. The new record, in a way free of musical and time constraints, finds the band reeling in the confidence of two brilliant records. Sitting somewhere in between (and often simultaneously) acoustic and electronic, the record combines elements of both genres, exploring new ground and allowing the piano to take centre stage. "I love how the boundaries between genres have gone in the age of streaming" says Davie, while Kev adds "no one listens to music in boxes anymore, so why make it like that? We just tried to follow our collaborative intuition and go where each song suggested."

The result of this process is a record which sees lead single Fuel On The Fire with its central, pulsing electronics (akin to a submarine sonar - in the album's podcast series, Kev describes his fascination with the sound, describing it as "the loneliest sound I can possibly imagine") sitting directly alongside one of the album's quieter tracks, Breaker / Keeper. With the lyric "truth is a part of me died, when you said I don't really want to be alive. Time stood still, and it hasn't really moved since" this is a beautifully heartbreaking number combining piano, acoustic guitar and horns. The sonar sounds return in the following track, Not Every River, a short track at the record's centre, proving the benefits of listening to the album in full and an example of the musical ties connecting the tracks.

To start the process of creating the record, Davie headed to a cottage in the English countryside with a guitar to work on lyrics while Kev worked on musical ideas on piano and drum machines. They are a band deeply loved for their lyrics, which are often relatable and heartbreaking in equal measure, giving strength to their fans. Davie has delved deeper for this record, exploring personal topics around the album's central themes of intimacy and connection. He describes that "in the past, I've always tried to understand what I'm writing about. This time, lyrics came from a more subconscious place. Like they were things I needed to say and I worked back from there. I was inspired by Neruda, who wrote as though he was trying to figure out his own feelings as much as explain them to anyone else. The aim was to be more honest and instinctive." 

The record's opening track (and my favourite) Hiding Bottles sets the tone for these personal themes instantly. Though it is one of their rockiest tracks to date, setting gritty guitars and electronics against some almost angry singing on Davie's part, the tracks opens the record vulnerably with the repeated lyric "well I'm keeping it together but you don't know the half of it. It's starting to show, no I'm not on top of this." The band describe the intention of the album as "trying to communicate with someone honestly [...] an attempt to reveal the honest and difficult challenge of communicating with anyone that you really care about." This track is one of the best realisations of this, written about Davie's relationship with a close family member with an alcohol addiction with the lyrics, he explains, recalling "real conversations, trying to reach out and help someone. It's also about recognising what you can and can't change, however hard you try."

Another incredibly personal track, most recent single Crow is sure to be a favourite from the record for many. Davie describes writing the track "in memory of my Mum's boyfriend who lived with us growing up. He was an awesome guy and somewhere between a father figure and a best friend to me but unfortunately passed away when I was 15." The track will be particularly pertinent to those who have lost somebody close to them, and I've already witnessed it bringing fans to tears at gigs.

It's a rare treat for music to really touch you in that way - the band talk of the "weight [of] our relationship with our audience that we take seriously and won't ever take for granted", explaining further that "once a song is written and recorded and available, we cannot claim it to be ours, alone, anymore. This song lyrically encompasses so much of what we stand for and talking openly about difficult things and sharing those thoughts with our fans means we can support each other and feel less alone in life's harder moments."

Themes of loss and connection are prevalent through the record, with Davie declaring on Fossils "if I could take it back love, I'd take it back love" and "I miss the way you trusted me, with anything with everything, can we just go back?" Later on the record, Conversations With Ghosts opens with "you needn't be a chamber to house all the echoes and voices of those that have left you" and features one of the stand-out lyrics of the record - "I'll go swimming in the caves, in the sparkle in your eyes, they're just the tears you don't let yourself cry, trying, so hard to say goodbye." Musically however, the lyrics of this track are juxtaposed with an optimistic, breezy piano tune at the centre of the track, and a reassuring plea to the listener - "don't let the darkness in."

Next comes another of my favourite tracks from the record, Evangeline. The track's repeated line "if you wanna go alone, then go alone" brings it into direct contrast with single Laurel Wreath and its refrain "you don't have to be lonely, alone" highlighting the difficulties in communicating with those that you're close to that the band sought to explore on the record. Evangeline echoes earlier tracks on the album, sampling an actual submarine sonar, and a stunning brass section provides one of the closest links, musically, to their debut album. This is taken further in the final track Blankets Of Sorrow, which Davie has described as "part two" of Bad Blood, the final track of their debut album, as the tracks share the same time signature and are stylistically very alike. The album is drawn to a close beautifully with the lyric "Not letting in or letting go, just saying what I've always known. That I only speak, so that you might hear me."

The record was demoed at the band's studio and recored at several studios in Seattle over the course of seven weeks with producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet FoxesFather John Misty). Both being big fans of The Shins, Davie describes it being a dream to work with Phil - "a deeply rewarding and massively educational experience." The full touring band (Christof van der VenJools OwenMarcus Hamblett and Harry Mundy) appear on the album, and joined Kev and Davie in Seattle to record brass, drums, electric guitar and more. Talking about the album process, Davie explains that "the album has grown and evolved from all of the processes we went through. Every step of the way, it has been instinctive, collaborative and pushed us both lyrically and musically. From writing the songs to Kev and I working on the songs together in the church, working through them as a band together with Phil in Seattle and even ultimately mixing with Craig Silvey (Arcade FireThe National) in London. Each separate process shaped and informed the album enormously." 

Bear's Den release their gorgeous new record So that you might hear me tomorrow, April 26th - order your copy from their website here. If you're in London, they play a launch gig at All Saints Church in Kingston for Banquet Records tomorrow evening - I can't wait! Tickets still available here.

Follow Bear's Den - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

ALBUM NEWS: Sam Fender - 'Hypersonic Missiles'

Brilliant news - Sam Fender has announced details of his debut album Hypersonic Missiles, due for release 9th August. Written, recorded and produced at his self-built warehouse studio in North Shields alongside producer Bramwell Bronte, the record explores relatable themes of social frustrations and despair that Sam has become known and loved for. When I caught him playing at last year's The Great Escape festival at the Communion showcase it was already clear that he had a loyal and passionate following and there was a lot of buzz around his set. Fast forward a few months and a bunch of sold out shows, he won the BRITs Critics' Choice award at the end of 2018. If the success of previous winners such as Florence & The MachineJack Garratt and James Bay is anything to go by, this record is sure to arrive among a lot of anticipation. Check out the title track of the new record below!

Head to Sam's website to pre-order the album and check out his upcoming shows and festival appearances.

Follow Sam Fender - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Monday 22 April 2019

LISTEN: Honeybabe - 'Letting The Boys In'

In need of some Summer-y bank holiday listening? Let me acquaint you with Honeybabe. They're  a five-piece band who formed back in 2013 in a suburban basement in Detroit, MI. Members Michael La Bella (vocals, guitar, piano), Matthew McBrien (vocals, guitar), Austin Keith (drums), Drew Bartosik (vocals, guitar, piano) and Danny Despard (bass) gain inspiration from a wide spectrum of genres, and have established their own unique genre blend of 'psychrockjazzbeachpunk'. Taken from their upcoming album In Living Memory (released 10th May) new track Letting The Boys In combines an energetic upbeat melody with heartfelt lyricism, providing jangly pop at its best and it is sounding glorious on this week's playlist update!

Follow Honeybabe - Facebook | Instagram.

Saturday 20 April 2019

LISTEN: Lauran Hibberd - 'Hoochie'

"If I was you, I would probably love me too." 

While I'm not always one for musical comparisons and saying things like "if you like ____, you'll love ____" I must say that in the year that has brought us the wonderful debut from Stella Donnelly there is most certainly space in my musical heart for Lauran Hibberd. I loved her track Sugardaddy earlier in the year but never got round to sharing - so I'm getting on this brilliant new track pronto! 

Described (accurately) as "humorous, infectious and charismatic in equal measure" Lauran hails from the Isle Of Wight and is very quickly creating a name for herself locally and further afield. Having just supported Hippo Campus on a UK/EU tour she's releasing the single ahead of her biggest headline shows to date and appearances at a bunch of festivals including Live At Leeds and Glastonbury Festival, where she'll be performing on the BBC Introducing stage.

Talking about the track, Lauran explains that "'Hoochie' is a 90s slang term for a bit of a 'loose' woman. It's also the name of my new hamster. For me, this track is kind of that three-month period, after you've stopped hanging out with someone and you realise that actually they were kind of a tool, and that maybe you are alright. I think there's a confidence in this track lyrically that I'm yet to filter through to my actual life. I'm looking forward to this happening."

Among a bunch of festival slots this Summer, Lauran Hibberd is heading on a three date headline tour in May, taking in Joiners in Southampton (21st), Jimmy's in Manchester (22nd) and The Lexington in London (23rd) - tickets and full live dates here!

Follow Lauran Hibberd - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 19 April 2019

WATCH: BE GOOD - 'God Of Nowhere'

Happy Friday! I've got a total musical and visual treat for you today, in the shape of God Of Nowhere from BE GOOD. Though I still haven't managed to catch the band live, they remain one of my  absolute favourite new(ish) bands on the Oxford scene alongside the likes of Catgod, Little Brother Eli, Lucy Leave and Low Island. Vocalist Ash Cooke met drummer Charlie Clarke at a ceramics club, bonding over nights listening to rap music in a South East London flat - they relocated to Ash's hometown of Oxford, joining forces with James Cunning (synths) and Patrick Burley (bass) to start a band as a response to suburban boredom (somewhat resembling the origin of Dizzy.)

I'm loving the new track and its brilliant - if fairly bizarre - video, directed and edited by Theo Watkins. A typically smooth offering from the band, vocalist Ash Cooke's gorgeous vocals sit atop a blend of indie and R&B elements. It's difficult to decide if I'd rather dance or fall asleep to the track. A bit of both? (Also - I'd quite like one of those denim jackets from the video. Just saying.)

Lyrically, the track delves into the idea that the person you have fallen for might not be quite as perfect as you thought. Ash describes that "it's about that moment in a relationship after the initial excitement when you realise that the other person is a fallible, imperfect human just like you are", adding "I think we should be less scared to let go of the things we idolise."

You can catch BE GOOD playing live at the following shows...

30th May - Truck Store, Oxford (instore)
31st May - The Social, London
12th June - Green Door Store, Brighton (w/ Sunset Rollercoaster)
13th June - The Bullingdon, Oxford

Follow BE GOOD - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

WATCH: Bear's Den - 'Laurel Wreath' & 'Crow'

With just over a week to go until the release of their third studio album So that you might hear me, and while in the midst of a UK tour (which saw me catch the band in Nottingham last week - check out my write-up here) Bear's Den have been gracing us with lots of tears of the new record. Last week they shared the music video for latest single Laurel Wreath, and have kept up the momentum with the release of brand new track and video Crow yesterday. Both videos and a little bit of info are below... I'll be reviewing the record at some point next week so keep an eye out for that post too if you're a fan of these guys.

The Laurel Wreath video was shot in the Marzahn-hellensdorf neighbourhood of Berlin, a neighbourhood home to many immigrants to Germany, but also a stronghold of the far right. The video features local actors from a housing centre for refugees and explores themes of loneliness as the actors go about their lives blindfolded, reflecting the track's recurring lyric "you don't have to be lonely alone, I could be there in a heartbeat." The director duo Jungle describe the idea of "people living their lives in the private cubicles they call home, willingly unaware of each other. Paying a price for their individuality. A dreamlike reality where people embodied their isolation through blindfolds."

The next track on the record, Crow is one of the most emotive, stripped back tracks on the album. It is one of the band's most personal songs to date, with singer Andrew Davie saying "the song was written in memory of my Mum's boyfriend who lived with us growing up. He was an awesome guy and somewhere between a father figure and a best friend to me growing up but unfortunately he passed away when I was 15. I wrote this song as I wanted to acknowledge how important and thankful I am to him for helping to raise me and my sister." The video for the track shows a bunch of the band's fans in Nashville, London, Brussels and Sao Paulo listening to the track for the first time alongside family members. It's an incredibly simplistic video offering, but makes for emotional viewing.

Davie explains "we thought that a music video that celebrated the idea of family would be the most appropriate thing we could do. Frequently we receive an overwhelming number of messages from people telling us about their relationships with the songs and their stories of how those songs have interacted with their lives. We wanted to honour those stories and provide an opportunity for their stories to be told. 

Once a song is written and recorded and available, we cannot claim it to be ours, alone, anymore. This song lyrically encompasses so much of what we stand for and talking openly about difficult things and sharing those thoughts with our fans means we can support each other and feel less alone in life's harder moments. There is a weight to our relationship with our audience that we take seriously and won't ever take for granted." 

Head to the Bear's Den website to pre-order your copy of the new record So that you might hear me, due for release 26th April.

Follow Bear's Den - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

WATCH: Boat To Row - 'On Your Own'

"It's easy to get down when there's no one else around, when there's no one else to tell you that you're doing pretty good."

I had the joy of meeting Michael from Boat To Row when he played a solo support set for a show I was helping to promote in Oxford a couple of years ago. I remember being blown away that he'd driven from Birmingham especially for the show, putting in as much effort playing a twenty or thirty minute set to what was an early evening (and small) pub crowd as he might have done to a sold out Brixton Academy, for instance. I was drawn in and loved discovering their first album I Found You Here - in particular the track Handsome Beats, which I still adore.

They're in the midst of a campaign to lead up to the release of their second album (but sadly got caught up in the PledgeMusic problems recently) and have just released second single On Your Own. They've shared a music video directed, filmed and edited by Thomas Wagstaff and Azeem Choudhry in and around Birmingham (particularly The Electric Cinema). It's a fun video for a brilliant track and I'm getting some Fleet Foxes vibes which is certainly always a good thing.

Follow Boat To Row - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

LISTEN: Matthew & The Atlas - 'Plaything'

With just over three weeks until the release of their brand new record Morning Dancer, Matthew & The Atlas have shared new track Plaything. It's the fourth track to be released from the record, and while it'll take something very special to overtake Pyres as my favourite track I'm really enjoying this one and can't wait to hear the album in its entirety on 10th May!

Driven by a strong drum beat, an instrumental section in the track shows the incredible musicianship at play among the band as guitars, drums, clarinet (and probably lots more, knowing these guys) combine to create something which is sonically rather lovely. On top of all this beautiful noise come the delicately crafted harmonies between vocalists Matt Hegarty and Emma Gatrill. Listen below...

Matthew & The Atlas head out tour just after the album release, playing shows around the UK and Europe. UK shows are listed below, with full dates and tickets available here.

12th May - Patterns, Brighton
13th May - The Fleece, Bristol
14th May - The Globe, Cardiff
16th May - Omeara, London
17th May - Bodega, Nottingham
18th May - Castle & Falcon, Birmingham
20th May - Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich
21st May - Deaf Institute, Manchester
22nd May - Leaf, Liverpool
24th May - The Wardrobe, Leeds
27th May - Stereo, Glasgow
28th May - The Mash House, Edinburgh
29th May - Voodoo, Belfast
30th May - The Grand Social, Dublin

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

WATCH: MarthaGunn - 'Saint Cecilia'

Although I already shared the track itself a couple of weeks ago, I'm eager to share the stunning new video from MarthaGunn for their recent single Saint Cecilia. I've loved these guys for a couple of years and the new track and video (created by the incredibly talented Dan Harris) mark the start of an exciting year for the band, I can't wait to hear more new music! They're heading out on their first headline tour this month, taking in shows in Bristol, London and Manchester, before playing the likes of The Great Escape, Bushstock, Hidden Herd and Citadel festivals. Watch the video to get a little taste of the atmosphere of a MarthaGunn show, and then grab yourself a ticket!

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 15 April 2019

LISTEN: Kios - 'Asleep'

When I check through the submissions for the blog, it continually blows my mind to see how far and wide the blog has spread. The idea that anybody at all is reading my posts is overwhelming enough, let alone anybody living thousands of miles away from me. Kios are an indie rock band based in Nashville, who found the blog and reached out recently to tell me about their brand new single Asleep.

I loved the track on first listen and knew I had to share - it follows the release of recent singles Be Loved and Right Now, delivering the same guitar driven upbeat vibes, reminiscent of the likes of Two Door Cinema Club and Phoenix. It's a really fun track and is sounding glorious on the 2019 Spotify playlist (which you should definitely check out & follow here - so far there's almost 10 hours of my favourite tracks of the year.)

Kios is Cole Suddarth (vocals, guitar), Aaron Krak (drums) and Mitch Wollenberg (bass) - Cole and Aaron met through a previous band forming at Belmont University, while Aaron and Mitch grew up together in Newark, Ohio. The trio moved in together in 2017, sparking the idea of creating music. Cole spent the summer in his hometown, writing songs and recording demos, which were sent back and forth between the trio, and Kios was born. The band say that "we're genuinely excited to be releasing more music and can't wait for you to hear it." 

Follow Kios - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Novo Amor - 'I Make Sparks'

Finding a brand new Novo Amor track at the top of my Spotify 'Release Radar' playlist this week was a beautiful surprise. The cover of Katie Kim track I Make Sparks was originally featured as a bonus track on the Japanese release of his debut album Birthplace and has now been made available to stream, and it's gorgeous.

Speaking about the track, Novo Amor shares: "'I Make Sparks' is a cover of a song by Irish artist Katie Kim, from her album 'Salt'. I fell in love with her bedroom demo a few years ago and have been looking for an opportunity to record my own version, to show my appreciation for Katie's music. I found time after I'd finished my debut album, 'Birthplace' [...] I'm really happy it's getting a release worldwide now." 

The digital release of the track follows the recent release of a double A-side single with Gia Margaret and a two part short film for tracks Sleepless and Repeat Until Death. Having just finished up a tour of the US, he's soon embarking on a European headline tour before returning to the UK to headline Bushstock Festival on 15th June. (Which I absolutely can not wait for!) Tickets and full dates here.

Follow Novo Amor - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Saturday 13 April 2019

LISTEN: Ferris & Sylvester - 'Flying Visit'

Ferris & Sylvester have just released brand new single Flying Visit - trademark harmonies in tow alongside soaring strings and guitar, it is, the band say, "quite simply, a love song." A few listens in, the track is quickly joining the likes of recent single Sickness and (I Think That You Look) Better In Yellow as one of my favourite tracks that the duo have put out over the past couple of years.

"It's all the things that we often want to say - 'I love you, please don't leave me' - but we stop ourselves because we're grown up and grown ups don't do that. Children are much better at speaking their minds and that's what inspired this song - unaffected and unashamed love."

2019 is looking to be a pretty exciting year for the duo. Earlier in the year they played their first ever UK headline tour, selling out nine shows across the country, before heading to the US to play their first shows across the pond, including at SXSW Festival. Now, after a run of European dates with Billy Lockett they are currently supporting him around the UK, before playing the Under The Apple Tree tour with Wildwood Kin later this month. Not ones for resting up, they're heading to a bunch of festivals this summer, including the likes of Live At LeedsThe Great Escape and Boardmasters. Check out the full list of dates here.

Follow Ferris & Sylvester - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 12 April 2019

ALBUM NEWS: Charlie Cunningham - 'Permanent Way'

I'm really excited to share this news... following the recent release of the two brilliant tracks Sink In and Permanent WayCharlie Cunningham has announced the follow up to his 2017 record Lines. New album Permanent Way is set for release via Infectious and BMG on June 7th (pre-order here) and the announcement has been marked with the release of new single Don't Go Far. It's a signature track from Charlie with heartbreaking lyrics like "we should try and let go even though it's hard" - combined, the three tracks released so far paint a really promising picture of the album.

The record is said to document life's uncertainties, "the need for intimacy and love, but also space and independence". Charlie explains that "I'm quite a private person outside of performing. There is some autobiographical stuff in the lyrics, but it flits in an out quite a lot; it's much more about people generally and their interactions." 

With a one-off London show coming up in June, Charlie has announced an extensive list of tour dates across the UK, Europe, America and Canada. UK dates are below - for full listings and ticket info head to his website here.

12th June - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
2nd Nov - Redgrave Theatre, Bristol
3rd Nov - City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds
4th Nov - Sage Gateshead (Hall 2), Gateshead
6th Nov - RNCM Concert Hall (Hall 2), Manchester
7th Nov - Holywell Music Room, Oxford
8th Nov - The Old Market, Brighton
10th Nov - Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 2, Liverpool
11th Nov - Oran Mor, Glasgow
12th Nov - Button Factory, Dublin

Follow Charlie Cunningham - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 11 April 2019

LIVE: Bear's Den at Rock City (9/4/19)

I'm sitting in a coffee shop tasked with writing a review of Tuesday night's Bear's Den show at Nottingham's Rock City. My first thought is to simply paste the word 'wow' a few hundred times, because I am completely in awe of this band and struggling to find the right words to explain just how magical they are - but for the sake of a more interesting post I'll give it a go...

The show in Nottingham followed a short run of shows in Europe and marked the start of the band's first UK tour in a couple of years. After seeing them seven times in just under a year from 2016 to 2017 it has been a long wait - and I am so glad that they are back playing live and with lots of brilliant new music in tow. Soundtracking my review writing is the band's new album So that you might hear me - it's not released until 26th April but I've been treated to an early stream - I'll be posting a review soon but I can promise fans that it is a gorgeous record and you're going to adore it.

Bear's Den live at Rock City, Nottingham

Opening the night was Tusks, AKA Londoner Emily Underhill. I have a lot of respect for an artist (particularly the opening act) who can bring a crowd to near silence with just an electric guitar for company on stage (she usually has the backing of a four-piece band, but joked to the crowd about having run out of money to pay them after the European dates of the tour.) I went to the show armed only with the knowledge of the support act's name, so had no idea what to expect and was - as I think the 2000 strong crowd were too - watching in quiet admiration for the duration of her set. A personal highlight was a stunningly understated cover of London Thunder by Foals which I've shared below.

Once Tusks' set finished, the stage was readied for Bear's Den, with an almost immeasurable number of guitars both on and off the stage, and a beautiful backdrop made from hundreds of feathers, paying homage to the artwork for the new record. 9pm arrived and the lights went down (ten points for perfect timekeeping) and the anticipation in the room became quickly apparent, it's safe to say Nottingham had missed them. The band took to the stage, a six-piece live ensemble, and opened the set with Fuel On The Fire, the first taste of the new record which they dropped back in January. Consider the bar set for the rest of the evening.

Performing a mixture of tracks from all three records, there was huge variety throughout in terms of both volume and tempo. Updated arrangements of older tracks refreshed the set, and despite it being my eighth Bear's Den show it felt like seeing them for the very first time again (a thought which leads to much fond reminiscing of their headline slot at Bushstock in 2015.) What better way to be reminded just how brilliant the band are in a live setting than with two tracks performed without any amplification or microphones. First, early track Sophie performed from the front of the stage and, during the encore, new album single Blankets Of Sorrow played within the crowd. It's pretty mesmerising to see a band perform to a crowd of that size entirely unplugged, creating an intimacy you wouldn't usually expect from that size of show. Sophie in particular left me totally in awe, it encompassed a power that I really couldn't wrap my head around at the time. (Chuffed to find that somebody has uploaded a video of that particular track here.)

As well as Fuel On The Fire and Blankets Of Sorrow the band played four more tracks from the new record - recent single Laurel Wreath and unreleased tracks Fossils, Crow and my personal favourite from the new record, Hiding Bottles (at the moment I'm adoring the lyric "yeah I'm keeping it together but you don't know the half of it, it's starting to show, no I'm not on top of this.") The new tracks were received superbly, but the crowd was probably most excited for an impromptu cover of (the chorus of) Nelly Furtado's I'm Like A Bird, which was as simultaneously crazy and wonderful as it sounds. That'll teach Davie not to joke on stage about being so rock and roll that they'd been singing her songs backstage - cue the entire crowd yelling at them to play it - "you've gotta sing along otherwise we're fucked [...] I can't believe this is happening."

So well loved are the band that it felt as if the majority of tracks they played were fan favourites, each receiving cheers of excitement from the very first notes. Testament to just how many brilliant songs they have, my personal favourite Magdalene is sadly not on the setlist at the moment, but I think I can forgive them. Bringing out the electric guitars and synths from the second record, the likes of Auld Wives, Emeralds and title track Red Earth & Pouring Rain received a rapturous welcome and got the crowd singing along, but nowhere are the audience louder (I think) at a Bear's Den show than during first album track Isaac. The track features the lyric "I'm gonna give all my love to you" - it was lovely to see how happy, and in a way shocked, the guys were to hear the crowd singing this back to them so loudly at this point - I love a band that doesn't take that level of fan interaction for granted!

A huge highlight of the set for me was another first album track, When You Break, which contrasted enormously with the unplugged segments of the show as the band descend into a jamming, drum-pounding and strobe-light infused outro which left me in a complete state of amazement. This level of variety in between tracks is one of the things that makes a Bear's Den show so exciting. As the show neared its end, Above The Clouds of Pompeii and closing track Agape, both from the first album, offered the crowd a last opportunity to exercise their lungs and show some love for the band - and they did!

As you've probably guessed, I loved the show and I really really love this band. A few dates are sold out, but they have a few UK shows still to come, including two nights at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, followed by a US tour in May and June - all the dates and ticket info are here - I hugely recommend getting along to a show if you can.

I'm really excited for what the year has in store for the band, they're on the cusp of releasing a brilliant record and deserve every ounce of success it brings - from previous shows and chatting to them after the gig on Tuesday I can attest to Davie and Kev being two of the sweetest, kindhearted and humble people I've had the joy of meeting and my heart is currently swelling with pride for them. Now: buy a ticket and pre-order the incredible new record So that you might hear me here, you can thank me later.

Follow Bear's Den - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Tusks - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

LISTEN: All Tvvins - 'Build A Bridge'

One of my favourite support act discoveries of the last few years has to be at a Twin Atlantic show back in July 2016, where I fell for openers All Tvvins, an Irish duo made up of Lar Kaye and Conor Adams. Their brilliant debut album llVV was released exactly a month later and reached #2 in the Irish charts, was nominated for Irish Album of the Year and received over 15 million streams. Fast forward three years and the duo's second album Just To Exist is due for release this Friday, 12th April. They've teased the release with a string of single releases, my favourite of which has been Build A Bridge which I want to share with news of the record. The band describe the idea behind the track as wanting "to convey the feeling of a summer evening sunset when you're driving out in the mountains and anything feels possible."

After working with previous collaborator James Vincent McMorrow to create Hell of a Party, which became the first single from the new record, McMorrow gave them a proposition - "I'm free in January and February. Do you want to come into the studio to make a record?" Kaye recalls "it seemed ridiculous but we knew he could make it happen." The duo took all the ideas they'd been working on for the past two years to a large open studio space in Dublin, and the trio created Just To Exist, which Adams describes as "a snapshot of where we were, what we were going through and where we hope to go next." Kaye adds that the title of the record represents "an acceptance of what we had to go through" to make the band not only exist, but to thrive once again.

All Tvvins play a string of shows (dates below) to celebrate the release of the album, check out the full dates and buy tickets here.

13th April - The National Stadium, Dublin
16th May - Oslo, London
17th May - Deaf Institute, Manchester
18th May - King tuts, Glasgow
19th May - Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds

Follow All Tvvins - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 8 April 2019

LISTEN: Junodream - 'Odd Behaviour'

Here's some more brand new music for your Monday... this time, courtesy of London based quintet Junodream. Odd Behaviour is the latest taste of their upcoming debut EP Terrible Things That Could Happen which is due for release on May 3rd. The band are Ed Vyvyan (lead vocals, keys), Dougal Gray (guitar, backing vocals), Tom Rea (guitar), Jake Gidley (drums) and Will Ryder (bass) who have spent the past 12 months amassing over 1 million Spotify streams and  playing headline shows at the likes of The Pickle Factory and Bermondsey Social Club in London, all with no management or label backing.

With an incredibly enticing bass line kicking in from the first notes and a slightly bonkers outro providing some wonderful guitar work, the track is written as a sequel to the band's previous single Terrible Things. Lyrically, it examines what happens when communication between two people breaks down. As the band say - "it's not easy realising you're in the middle of something rotten, especially when you don't know what the problem is. Eventually you find yourself drifting away from someone you care about and the behaviour that comes to the surface can be kind of messed up."

"The lyrics are somewhere between guilty and furious; it's about something that should never have happened in the first place. The issues in Terrible Things get out of hands and things take a turn for the worse." 

Catch Junodream alongside Valeras, The Post Romantics and Waterfools on April 23rd at Concrete Space in Shoreditch - tickets here.

Follow Junodream - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Heavy Heart - 'Dowsabel'

Heavy Heart have shared new track Dowsabel, the second of three tracks set for release in 2019, mixed and co-produced by Grammy award-winning Gabe Wax (Fleet Foxes, Soccer Mommy), following up January release Bed BugThe South-London four piece, made up of Anna Vincent (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Fitzroy (guitar, backing vocals), James Vincent (guitar, backing vocals) and Craig Brown (drums), are creating a reputation for delivering captivating dream pop tracks and atmospheric live shows. With support slots for Another Sky and Honey Lung under their belts, they've got shows coming up with Big Spring (16th April) and Desert Mountain Tribe (2nd May) and a London headline show in June to look forward to! 

Describing the origins of the new track, the band revealed that: "Dowsabel is an old English word for sweetheart, and this song is about a love affair, but it's a bittersweet, broken and defeated one. It's about the jagged edges and the blood we draw; the damage that we do to each other in the name of love. Living in a room filled with dust, dying flowers, and the ghosts of unspoken words, we're together but alone, too afraid to walk away, prisoners in an unlocked cage." 

Follow Heavy Heart - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 4 April 2019

LISTEN: Rhys Lewis - 'End Like This'

One of my favourite discoveries of recent years, Rhys Lewis has consistently shared some of the most simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking music I've heard recently. Writing in an incredibly honest way about his experience of relationships, the listener is presented with lyrics which are incredibly personal but usually relatable too. His soulful vocals and production which gives them the forefront offers a fairly emotional listen (if you're a fan of sad songs - you'll probably love Rhys as much as I do.) He's back with new single End Like This, the third single to be taken from his upcoming 5-track In Between Minds EP alongside Hold On To Happiness and Better Than Today.

Speaking about the new track, Rhys shares:“Putting too much faith in love is the only way to feel it in its strongest incarnation. When you do feel it powerfully for someone you put all your trust in it, you start thinking 10 years ahead and picture what your lives might look like together. When a relationship breaks down, you not only have to let go of the person you were with, but every single one of those visions too. So, for a while at least, you have to live with a different image of the future.”

Check out this exclusive live version of the track for VEVO!

Rhys heads out on a headline tour this May with a sold out show at London's Omeara on 1st May - if you missed out on tickets he is also playing at Bushstock Festival on 15th June alongside a brilliant line-up! Full tour dates here.

Follow Rhys Lewis - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

LISTEN: Saltwater Sun - 'The Great Deceiver'

Who said guitar music was dead? It's very much alive and kicking in this new tune from Reading five-piece Saltwater Sun. The Great Deceiver is the title track of their highly anticipated EP which is released tomorrow and features recent single Blood alongside a new track, Trying. The EP follows a big 2018 for the band with press support from the likes of NME, DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, airplay from BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and slots at The Great Escape and Reading & Leeds' BBC Introducing stage.

True to form, the track's lyrics take a personal meaning, as frontwoman Jen Stearnes reveals: "I wrote this song to my younger self. I always wanted to sing but doubted myself because I hated my appearance and feared it would be scrutinised if I put myself out there."

"We all grow up with unrealistic beauty standards, or expectations of how we should be and that makes me think about all the other people who have been held back, or made to feel small or like they don’t have a place by those ridiculous standards and expectations. I’ve found confidence over time, but this song services as a little pep talk every now and then, and is here for anyone else who needs it; it is about finding your voice, not giving in to self doubt and learning to be comfortable in yourself, whoever that is."

The band celebrate the EP release with a hometown launch show at Purple Turtle in Reading this Saturday, followed by plenty of festivals across the next few months!

6th April - Purple Turtle, Reading (EP launch w/ Honey Lung & Weird Milk)
9th April - Scala, London (supporting Anteros)
4th May - Live at Leeds
5th May - Liverpool Sound City
17th May - Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London (Close Up Festival)
13th July - Hidden Herd Festival, Brighton
14th July - Readipop Festival, Reading
26th July - Truck Festival, Oxfordshire
9th August - Boardmasters Festival, Cornwall

Follow Saltwater Sun - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

LISTEN: Far Caspian - 'A Dream Of You'

Here's a dreamy mid-week treat from you from Leeds trio Far Caspian, who are back with A Dream of You - it's all sorts of lovely. The track follows recent single Conversations and gives us the second taster of their upcoming second EP The Heights, due for release this Summer. 2018 saw the release of hazy debut EP Between Days, with their self-proclaimed "melanjolly" style garnering press from the likes of DIY, The Line Of Best Fit and Dork and earning them a slot performing to a packed tent at Leeds Festival.

Frontman Joel Johnston writes of the new track that it was "the first song I wrote for this EP. It was inspired by some of our favourite synth pop bands of the 80s and gave us the idea to play with that sort of sound for the rest of the songs."

"It's mainly about feeling abandoned whether that's from a relationship or from friends or family and already knowing that feeling from previous experiences. The inspiration for the lyrics came from a place where I was thinking about my experiences as a kid. I’m the youngest of five boys and I was always seeking validation and wanted to be a part of the fun. I quickly got used to the feeling of being alone as each brother eventually moved away from home. It made me realise my expectation of others now that I’m older. The more I have conversations with people the more I realise everyone carries something from their childhood with them and at our age it’s about figured out whether it’s a good or bad thing."

(c) Jeff Barnett

Catch Far Caspian at their upcoming headline tour and at festivals across April and May...

April 9th: The Polar Bear, Hull
April 10th: Jimmy's, Manchester
April 11th: Shacklewell Arms, London
April 13th: Heartbreakers, Southampton
April 20th: Stockton Calling
May 4th: Live At Leeds Festival
May 5th: Hit The North Festival

Follow Far Caspian - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

LISTEN: Mosa Wild - 'Night'

Apologies if the posts are coming a little slowly at the moment - today marks eight weeks since our HMV store closed and I'm currently spending most of my days trawling the internet for job listings. One constant that has been helping to keep me sane for the past few weeks is certainly the amount of brilliant new music I've been discovering, and I really wanted to share a March release from Mosa Wild.

A new name to me, the four-piece released their debut single in 2016 - the success of this one track lead to a global deal with Glassnote Records, slots at Reading and Leeds and a support tour across Europe with my current fave, Maggie Rogers. New single Night is taken from their forthcoming debut EP Talking In Circles, due for release via Glassnote this Summer.

Building on the sound they established with debut single Smoke, this track builds until it is almost anthemic, with the cry "help me be strong" which I can easily imagine being repeated back by a large crowd in the live setting. The new track is produced by both Jim Abbiss (Arctic MonkeysBombay Bicycle Club) and James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By HorsesDry The River) - they're certainly in safe hands! The EP is the result of an intense eight month period where the band retreated to guitarist Alex Stevens' aunt's house in a village "miles from civilisation", working on the tracks which have come together to form the forthcoming EP.

With new tracks under their belts, the band are itching to get out and play live - they play their first ever London headline show at The Waiting Room on 10th April, followed by slots at two of my favourite festivals, The Great Escape (9th May) and Bushstock (15th June.)

Follow Mosa Wild - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 1 April 2019

LISTEN: Whethan & Bearson - 'Win You Over' (feat. SOAK)

Happy Monday! Sharing one of the best tracks I heard last week (and which very quickly made its way onto my 2019 Spotify playlist) from Whethan, Bearson and SOAK. It's the first release from 19-year-old Chicago-born producer Whethan, aka Ethan Snoreck, since his 2018 debut album Life Of A Wallflower Vol. 1, bringing together the eclectic sounds and influences of the three artists to create something really special. My interest was certainly peaked when I saw that the track featured vocals from SOAK, whose new record Grim Town is due for release on 26th April - I can't wait for that one and I've really been digging the recent single Knock Me Off My Feet.

Follow Whethan - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow Bearson - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow SOAK - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.