Friday 28 February 2020

LISTEN: Dizzy - 'Sunflower'

Completely over the moon about this - Dizzy are back with their first new music of the year, Sunflower. The track follows up their recent Heavy / Twist EP and the 2018 debut album Baby Teeth which I absolutely adore. They were a random discovery for me as a friend took me to their set at a festival and I am so grateful for that introduction - I love them. The new track was produced by the band themselves and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Florence & The Machine). With lyrics that see singer Katie Munshaw drifting between self-loathing and self-care, Katie describes the track as "a three and a half minute 'snap out of it!' to myself when I'm feeling low, unconfident or not myself." 

The band are about to head on a support tour in the UK and Europe with Oh Wonder but they've also just announced a London gig of their own at brand new venue Lafayette (sister venue, if you will, to Omeara) on November 18th. Tickets are on sale here today!

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 27 February 2020

WATCH: Willie J Healey - 'Why You Gotta Do It'

Like a lot of people, I love me a Willie J Healey tune. His new track has been sat on my 'to write' list for a few weeks, but I didn't want it to miss out from getting a feature, so here it is... Why You Gotta Do It is the latest single from the Oxford legend, released by the lovely folk at Yala Records and with a video directed by Joe Wheatley. It's one of his best yet, I think.

If you like what you're hearing and would like a live WJH fix, you're in luck as he is touring the UK in April - tickets here!

20th April: Esquires, Bedford
21st: Lafayette, London
23rd: The Cookie, Leicester
24th: Phase One, Liverpool
25th: Central Library, Coventry
27th: Think Tank?, Newcastle
28th: The Crescent, York
29th: Deaf Institute, Manchester
1st May: Jericho, Oxford

Follow Willie J Healey - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

LISTEN: Ed The Dog - 'Everybody, I Love You'

Can't stop listening to this one. High Wycombe indie-rock band Ed The Dog may have passed you by with their debut album Shame back in 2018, but fear not - they're back with brand new track Everybody, I Love You and it is a certified tune. Frontman Ed (naturally) describes the track as being "about honesty. Total honesty really, and how accepting yourself as you are can have consequences on your relationships." It's a lovely little nostalgic tune with some cheery indie vibes that bring about memories of early Vampire Weekend and the like, juxtaposing with darker lyrics which explore themes of loneliness. Go forth and listen...

Follow Ed The Dog - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

VIDEO PREMIERE: White Tail Falls - 'Disintegrate'

Time for a sneaky early watch of something really rather exciting. I did the maths and it turns out that I've been listening to Irwin Sparkes' music, in its various guises, for over half of my life. Big commitment. So it's pretty wild to be asked to premiere the brand new music video for his track Disintegrate, released as part of his White Tail Falls project. The track is taken from the upcoming debut album Age Of Entitlement, due for release via Physical Education Records on 29th May - but first, the Fake News EP due next Friday!

Following in the footsteps of the Give It Up, Son, the new video is once again directed by Craig Young - the videos come together to form part of a short-film. Most exciting fact of all - it was entirely shot on an iPhone. Let that sink in. The new video was partly shot in Barcelona last year, and the footage recently added to with a chilly shoot in Berlin. As Irwin commented online "making these videos has been a sheer labour of love. Craig and Nēna have laboured and I've loved watching them. So proud of what we've (mainly "they've") done to make these #shotoniphone videos look a million rupees." I couldn't do the video justice by trying to explain - it's best if you just feast your eyes and ears, pronto. It's a gorgeous track.

A little more on the video from Irwin... "I learned a lot of things making this film: I have a low tolerance for being cold, pigeon faeces and working for free. The talented Mr Craig Young, who wrote, directed and shot it [...] pulled in a lot of favours to make this happen. This video is a testament to what you can accomplish with no budget, a little chutzpah, a lot of love and an iPhone. And a drone." 

I for one absolutely can not wait for the record - every press quote I see and every tweet that Irwin shares about the record or the process of making it just adds to the intrigue. He describes that "making this album has changed my life. It's forced me to confront what I'm made of. I still don't know how I feel about that." Elsewhere, he shared that "making music is a joy. Releasing it is another kettle of worms altogether. This record makes me feel vulnerable and even admitting that on social media is probably not advisable. I wish I could be so nonchalant as to say I don't care if you like it... but I hope it finds a home in your ears, and so do I. It's the closest I've come to documenting having come apart at the seams & being stitched back together. Some of you will know what that means. Some of you will find out." It feels such an honour to be allowed in for a listen to a record which is so clearly a deeply personal response to a difficult time. I'll treasure the record accordingly, I'm sure.

White Tail Falls head out on a UK headline tour through March and April, dates below & tickets here.

20th March: The Poetry Club, Glasgow
21st: Royal Park Cellars, Leeds
26th: St Pancras Old Church, London
27th: The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
2nd: Night People, Manchester

Follow White Tail Falls - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 24 February 2020

WATCH: Samantha Crain - 'Garden Dove'

There's something pretty special about seeing people get the opportunity to do things that they love, and support things that they believe in. Time for some exciting news which I've been meaning to share for a few weeks - I was excited to learn that Lucy Rose has set up an independent label, Real Kind Records, as an imprint of Communion Records.  

Her first signing is Samantha Crain, an artist who Lucy has been a friend and fan of for a few years, and who she toured with last year. Listening to the new record which she had self-produced in her  US home, Lucy describes herself being struck by it as "one of the best albums I had heard in years, maybe ever" but finding that Samantha wasn't really sure how she would release it. Taking matters into her own hand, Lucy spoke to her label Communion, who have given her the opportunity to set up a label as an imprint of them, to release Samantha's record (and plenty more to come, I hope!) Lucy describes it as "one of the most exciting moments of my life [...] I have real ambition for Samantha and this album. It's a deeply personal album and one that I will continue to listen to and enjoy for all the years to come. I hope many, many more people will too." 

The record in question is A Small Death, due for release on 1st May. The first single An Echo was released a few weeks back, with the follow-up Garden Dove streaming now. Samantha explains that it is "about putting in the work on yourself, not only for yourself, but for someone you love too." 

About the record, Samantha describes that it was "written and recorded during and after some serious hardships in my life. I had lost use of my hands, sank into despair due to the apparent loss of my ability to perform on instruments. I was suffering from a mental and physical breakdown and when I eventually came out on the other side of it, with my capacities renewed, I found such joy and appreciation to be able to create again and put all of this into this record, because of this, in my eyes, it is the most important record I've made and I held it firmly in my arms and carried it through to completion. I saw this as my bonus round, my second chance, and a time to re-evaluate my principles as an artist and my objective as a person. The state of peace that I came to following this tumultuous time in my life allowed me a real clarity towards desires for this record."

Samantha tours the UK following the album release - tickets here.

6th May: Hope & Ruin, Brighton
7th: Omeara, London
10th: YES, Manchester
11th: Louisiana, Bristol
13th: Stereo, Glasgow
14th: Oporto, Leeds

Follow Samantha Crain - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 20 February 2020

LISTEN: Rayowa - 'Chance'

I'm delighted to hear that Rayowa are back with the follow-up to their debut single Better Man, which they released back in November, and which I hailed as perfect for fans of Franc Moody and Jungle. Chance follows in those strong first steps that the brothers made with Better Man, delving further into the world of soul, funk and pop that the trio all love. Listening in direct comparison, the new track seems to have a level of confidence behind it, a level of euphoria, and an irresistible beat - you should probably get on your dancing shoes...

About the track, the band say that "'Chance' is about seizing an opportunity and not letting self-doubt take hold of you. It's a continuation on from 'Better Man' and the next part of a success story we want to tell and aim to live out. It's about having the confidence within yourself to go on and achieve all your dreams." 

Follow Rayowa - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

WATCH: The Magic Gang - 'Think'

With nearly two years having passes since their self-titled debut album, the return of The Magic Gang feels long awaited. Their 2018 record was such a pleasant surprise for me - I'd been vaguely aware of the band and a few of their tracks, and gave the record a listen when it was released. Very quickly I fell in love with it, sticking the CD into the work stereo when I got the chance. The band seems to have an innate capacity to create absolute tunes, tracks which are melodically brilliant - their debut album is full of tracks vying to be my favourite.

They smashed their way back onto the airwaves a couple of weeks back, premiering a brand new track as Annie Mac's Hottest Record feature on BBC Radio 1. The track - Think - is very recognisably The Magic Gang, but reflects the time that has passed since the record was released, with a strong Northern Soul influence and the introduction of some pretty wild horns in the track. The video is a carefree wonder to behold, too.

If you'd like to catch The Magic Gang live, they've announced a few festival appearances and will no doubt tour to promote their new record later in the year - but sooner, they're supporting Blossoms on their UK tour in March. Remaining tickets here.

Follow The Magic Gang - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

LISTEN: MarthaGunn - 'We Don't Need Each Other'

I've got a lot of love for MarthaGunn and I just have to share their latest single - which is sublime, as ever. Arriving last week on Valentine's Day, We Don't Need Each Other is their song for the "happily single" (thanks!) Who needs a love song? As the band described when sharing the track online - "so many people are dependent on a partner or feel they can't cope without another person in their lives. I've been that person. People often think it's strange if you've been single for too long, but these are all outdated ideas. I wanted to write a song that stood up for choosing to be single or at least trying to stay single and resist temptation to fall into a comfortable relationship." Listen below...

MarthaGunn head out on a UK tour in March with a bunch of brilliant support acts across the tour, tickets here.

22nd March: Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
24th: Broadcast, Glasgow
25th: Think Tank, Newcastle
27th: The Castle, Manchester
28th: Dead Wax, Birmingham
30th: Heartbreakers, Southampton
31st: Louisiana, Bristol
1st April: Hope & Ruin, Brighton
2nd: Courtyard Theatre, London

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 17 February 2020

LISTEN: Ciaran Lavery - 'Can I Begin Again'

From an acoustic set opening up for Luke Sital-Singh a few years ago, I remember Ciaran Lavery's music as folky and unassuming... so I am absolutely loving his rebirth of sorts for the first single from his upcoming fourth record. Can I Begin Again sees Ciaran diverging into the gritty world of indie rock, with the main lyric of the track "I need to please myself" becoming the central message of a song about starting again.

Ciaran explains that the track "was written under the encouragement of my therapist to write everything down, whether it's rational or irrational, to just get it all on to paper. The song is for anyone, who either in their personal or professional life, have spent too long servicing the needs of others, putting their own thoughts and feelings second." 

Talking about the upcoming record, Ciaran explains that "I knew there needed an urgency in the songs that were being created in order to balance the nakedness of the lyrics [...] It's the Joy Division trick of making people dance while you punch them in the gut with the true message - which I love." 

Ciaran is touring the UK with Boy & Bear on UK dates this month - tickets here.

20th Feb: Gorilla, Manchester
21st: Arts School, Glasgow
22nd: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
24th: Institute 3, Birmingham
25th: Thekla, Bristol
26th: O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Follow Ciaran Lavery - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 14 February 2020

WATCH: Arlo Parks - 'Eugene'

"We've been best buds since thirteen, but that don't change the things I feel." 

I'm absolutely loving this. I caught onto Arlo Parks being a bit of a legend a month or so back with her feature on the Easy Life mixtape, where she sings a duet on Sangria. She's just shared new single and video Eugene via the ever lovely folks at Transgressive. In a beautifully choreographed and edited video from the Coyle Larner Brothers (musician Loyle Carner and his brother Ryan) the "complicated feelings and ambiguous relationships" of the track are brought to life by Arlo and her co-stars Theo and Amelia. Watch it!

Arlo plays some UK dates in March with Matilda Mann supporting - lots are selling out quickly, so get on tickets quickly here.

Follow Arlo Parks - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 13 February 2020

WATCH: Jordan Mackampa - 'Magic'

The new Jordan Mackampa track made its way onto the blog playlist instantly when it was released recently - and I'm loving this joyous video for the track. Magic is sing-along, romantic (tis the season, after all) and just generally feel good. Produced by Dani Castelar (Paolo Nutini), the track arrives in advance of Jordan's debut album Foreigner, due for release on 13th March. Of the track, Jordan explains "this a bossa nova/samba infused feel good kinda track about when you can't get someone off your mind. You've had one taste and you want more!" 

After a successful year of gigs and festivals in 2019, Jordan has announced a tour to celebrate the album release - taking in North America, UK and Europe, with a date at London's Scala and an appearance at SXSW. Grab tickets and pre-order the record on the website here. UK dates below...

24th April: Joiners, Southampton
25th: Waterbeach Baptist Chapel, Cambridge
26th: Hope & Ruin, Brighton
29th: Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
30th: The Mash House, Edinburgh
1st May: YES, Manchester
3rd: Westgarth SC, Middlesbrough
5th: Rough Trade, Bristol
6th: Scala, London

Follow Jordan Mackampa - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

WATCH: Red Moon - 'Dogma'

This one is a debut and a half. Norwegian-Swiss pop artist Red Moon has released her first single, Dogma. Sold to me as somewhere between Florence Welch and Aurora, my interest was instantly peaked and I'm enjoying the track. It is hypnotic in nature and her vocals are stunning... the track invites the listener close, creating a safe space reflective of that which Red Moon feels through her artistic name. She explains that "using a name that isn't a real name makes me feel there are endless possibilities, and a safe place, where I can show my vulnerable sides." 

The track revolves around the original meaning of the Greek word 'dogma', which translates as "that which one thinks is true" or "to seem good". Talking about the track, Red Moon asks "can we live an unfiltered life? One where we can be open. It seems pretty unthinkable that it would be possible or make sense, since without all the knowledge and experience from ourselves and our ancestors, who would we even be. Can we be better? And I am not talking about the advanced technology that will bring us to a different level, but the spiritual levels, shared bonds and knowledge and understanding for each human..."

Red Moon makes her live debut at London's Ja Ja Ja on 13th February. 

Follow RED MOON - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

WATCH: Rhys Lewis - 'When Was The Last Time?'

"I can't sleep at night, knowing you're by my side, but so far away." 

If you're ever in need of a sad song, Rhys Lewis is usually a pretty safe pair of hands. He's just released his first track of the year, and it's yet another heartbreaker - tissues at the ready. In When Was The Last Time? Rhys' trademark vocals are on show as the track opens with piano chords, building throughout, adding different sounds to the fabric of the track, reflecting the content of the lyrics, with rising tension. The track charts the period directly before a break-up, as Rhys explains "you know, when she's leaving kisses off her texts or not saying goodnight when she goes to bed. Slowly you start to put those things together, and evidence arrives of a fatal prognosis." The track arrives with a video directed by Mike Baldwin (Anna Calvi, Frank Turner) which follows four couples in this scenario. Like his music, the video is heartwarming but heart-wrenching.

Follow Rhys Lewis - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 10 February 2020

WATCH: Archie Faulks - 'What For'

Videos like this one are surely the main source of blame for me constantly wandering around in public with headphones in, singing. Except there is absolutely no way that I look as effortlessly cool as Archie does here. The video is for What For, the latest single from Archie Faulks, and it features a cameo from a familiar looking busker... Isaac Gracie, anyone? The track is taken from the upcoming Longing for London EP, due for release on 14th February.

Talking about the meaning of the track, Archie explains that "when everything feels hopeless in life there will always be certain things that can provide an element of comfort. I am lucky that singing, writing and listening to music gives me that. So this song is about despite it seeming like my world was falling apart I still had a safe refuge in the history of recorded music and my own guitar." 

Follow Archie Faulks - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 7 February 2020

LISTEN: MF Tomlinson - 'Last Days of Rome'

In the latest in a flurry of exciting EP/album announcements (keep them coming, artists!) MF Tomlinson has announced news of his debut EP Last Days of Rome, due for release 13th March. The EP is his response to uncertain times, a mixture of humorous and hopeful, and the title track captures this mood, with relatable lyrics about our modern times, as he asks questions like "what is the point after the point of no return?" 

Talking about the track, MF explains that "the seed of this song was formed many years ago - sadly, it felt like the song only became more relevant as years went by. Now, in 2020 my homeland of Australia has been consumed by fire, Brexit looms and in the US the situation worsens with strikes in Iran. Yet somehow, our lives continue - this song is made up of all the thoughts that whirl around in the back of our minds as we go about our days, haunted by the knowledge that this might be the end."

To celebrate the launch of the EP, MF Tomlinson brings his incredibly dynamic and well loved performance back to London's The Lexington on 30th March - tickets here

Follow MF Tomlinson - Facebook | Instagram.

Thursday 6 February 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Malena Zavala - 'La Yarará'

Almost exactly two years ago I had the pleasure of catching Malena Zavala at a show in London where she was opening for Sivu. It was my first time hearing her music and I was instantly mesmerised. She soon released debut album Aliso and toured around Europe and the UK with the likes of Lord Huron and Blanco White before heading to southern Spain to write her second album. The result is La Yarará, which is due for release via the lovely folk at Yucatan Records on April 17th.

La Yarará was recorded last Sepember at Urchin Studios, with Malena herself producing and Dani Bennett Spragg (Baxter DuryThe Amazons) engineering. Malena describes Urchin as "a really beautiful, all wooden studio, which was really important for the sound of this album [...] I wanted it to feel like Buena Vista Social Club. I wanted to play the room, to feel the walls and wooden floors." 

While the first record was about "expressing [her] emotions", Malena describes the new record as being "about exploring and overcoming my identity issues - about not knowing where I belong. That's something I've felt my whole life." Born in Argentina to parents with Italian passports, and raised in the UK, Malena's rich heritage feeds beautifully into her art, with elements of Latin music and culture throughout, and a mix of Spanish and English lyrics representing Malena's own fragmented identity.

While recent lead single En La Noche was sang in Spanish, latest single I'm Leaving Home is sung in English. Malena explains that "I don't make a conscious choice to sing in a particular language [but with this track] the rhythm isn't so Latino, plus it's about my parents and how I feel about home, so it feels like it should be in English." For me, the track evokes a sense of nostalgia, it's like a warm hug on a cold day. I'm excited to hear more from the record!

Malena Zavala headlines London's Courtyard Theatre to celebrate the album release on April 23rd - tickets available here.

Follow Malena Zavala - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 5 February 2020

WATCH: Leif Vollebekk - 'Apalachee Plain'

It's been a couple of months since Leif Vollebekk did us all the favour of sharing his gorgeous record New Ways into the world. Closing up the record beautifully with sublime country sounds, Apalachee Plain features pedal steel from Cindy Cashdollar, vocals from Angie McMahon and some harmonica to finish it all off. As the latest single from the record, the track has been given a video treatment, with Leif himself seen against the backdrop of a black and white Icelandic landscape - the beauty of the video definitely matches the beauty of the track here.

The video's director Joe Connor explains that "I wanted to create a photographic video for this track which used mixed media, Icelandic landscapes and portrait photography to give an other-worldly vibe to the track, putting Leif and his voice at the centre of the visuals. 

Following an Australian tour, Leif soon heads to Europe and plays a run of UK dates in late April/early May. Remaining tickets here.

27th April: Bush Hall, London (sold out)
28th: Bush Hall, London (sold out)
29th: Exchange, Bristol
30th: Soup Kitchen, Manchester
1st May: Poetry Club, Glasgow
2nd: Soundhouse, Dublin

Follow Leif Vollebekk - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

LISTEN: APRE - 'Your Heart's Like A Jungle'

I love love love APRE. They'd been on my radar a little while with tracks falling into my playlists, the band playing at festivals I was at etc, but I hadn't taken too much notice until I caught them opening for Friendly Fires towards the end of 2019. They completely won me over with their energetic performance and a range of brilliant tracks. A true class act. They've just shared their first new music of the year, in the shape of Your Heart's Like A Jungle.

The band explain that the single is about "being lost in a relationship. It describes that frustrating feeling when you are trying your best to love someone, but you fail to understand their emotions and get lost in your feelings for them. It's about the dead ends that mean you will struggle to get along, and the hardships when trusting the person you really love not to break your heart." 

APRE take their superb live show on the road on the Go Somewhere tour this month - tickets here.

11th Feb: Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
12th: Record Junkee, Sheffield
13th: The Fulford Arms, York
14th: Think Tank, Newcastle
15th: Deaf Institute, Manchester
17th: Phase One, Liverpool
19th: Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
20th: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
21st: The Bullingdon, Oxford
22nd: Louisiana, Bristol
23rd: Bodega, Nottingham
25th: The Cookie, Leicester
26th: Green Door Store, Brighton
27th: Scala, London

Follow APRE - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 3 February 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Siv Jakobsen - 'A Temporary Soothing'

Norwegian solo artist Siv Jakobsen has recently shared new single Fear the Fear and announced details of the follow-up to her debut album. New record A Temporary Soothing, due 24th April, was recorded with producer Chris Bond (Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey) and mixed by Zach Hanson (Bon Iver, Tallest Man on Earth). It's an exploration of 'fear, anxiety, change, and the struggle between being healthy and being productive', arriving at a time where these themes are more relevant than ever to the majority of us.

Siv explains that the new single Fear The Fear was "born from a spiralling worry that I wouldn't be able to create well if I was well, happy, content with myself and my life. It touches on my tendency to hang out in my own head and stay there, worrying about something in a constant, stressful loop. Fear is a big element in my general state of being, and I'm often run by it [...] writing this song helped me get that spiralling fearfulness out of my system." 

While Siv's debut album The Nordic Mellow was recorded in mere weeks, the second record is the result of almost a year of writing and recording. Working around a busy schedule for both Siv and producer Chris, the pair met in one and two week periods over this time, with the space between sessions allowing time for her to process the album, with freedom to develop her sound for this second record. She describes the record as "a way for me to look back and see what I have been going through, both the good and the bad [...] What I hope for is that people can take it and understand what they have been going through personally, too." 

Pre-order A Temporary Soothing here.

Follow Siv Jakobsen - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.