Thursday 30 April 2020

LISTEN: I See Rivers - 'How'

Continuing on the theme of sublime harmonies kicked off by my MICHELLE post yesterday, here's the latest from I See Rivers. The Norwegian (via Liverpool and Pembrokeshire) trio have been a favourite of mine since I saw them supporting Cosmo Sheldrake a couple of years ago - complete with the band selling their freshly knitted and limited edition merch from the stage. I loved the music and their personalities shone through in the performance. With help from PRS Momentum Fund, Music Norway, PRS Women Make Music, BBC Launchpad and a fan campaign on Kickstarter, they've recently finished work on their debut album. How is the fourth single to be taken from the album.

The track uses the legend of Perseus and Andromeda to tell a turbulent love story, with the trio's trademark multi-layered harmonies sitting atop synths to make another brilliant electro-pop track. In their words - "through Andromeda's eyes, the song echoes her deep understanding of her connecting to Perseus and her belief that even through hardships and turmoil, they have always been destined to be together - even after death she and Perseus are to spend the rest of their existence as constellations in the sky. 

"Although drawn from the Greek myth, the deeper and more personal message of the song is about the need to make sense of things whilst battling the fear of losing face and understanding."

The debut album from I See Rivers is due later this year.

Follow I See Rivers - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

WATCH: MICHELLE - 'The Bottom' (Live at Atlantic Records Studio)

There's a couple of record labels that have consistently impressed and excited me with their output, ones which I feel like I'm in really comfortable hands when they announce a new signing. The first is Communion (... of course) and the second, Transgressive. They've worked on albums with the likes of Foals, Cosmo Sheldrake, Johnny Flynn and Gengahr and I am really intrigued by latest signing, New York collective MICHELLE, who fuse R&B, 80s synth pop, jazz and indie into their own unique style. The group are working with Transgressive in the UK and Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records for the rest of the world.

They released their debut album Heatwave last year, but they're a new name to me. The new live video they've just put out of track The Bottom, recorded in February at Atlantic Records Studios, is a gorgeous watch. The harmonies!!! Talking about the track, lyricist and vocalist Emma Lee says that "the song is an ode to the East river. Whispering worries to my mom by the river, mustering up the courage to dive in without fear - diving into what scares me, or into this loyal body of water."

If you're into those harmonies (of course you are) then check out this video from a Sofar Sounds NYC show last year - the stripped back environment makes the vocals even more impressive. I'm very intrigued to see what comes next from this group!

Follow MICHELLE - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

WATCH: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Evening Chorus'

It was Earth Day a few days ago, and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new video from Cosmo Sheldrake. The video sees him playing some music (live from an ironing board, naturally) in a bluebell wood in Dorset, recording by Orban Wallace of Galavant Films, who he is luckily in lockdown with. Creative dream team! In the video, he's playing an improvisation using the song of endangered birds - a nightingale, a short eared owl, a tawny owl, a bittern and a cuckoo - at sunset, during the evening chorus. The combination is sublime and I am forever overwhelmed by his work. A true genius and musical magician.

As well as sharing this video, Cosmo also shared a collection of nightingale music, with two wake-up call tracks and a cover of a Tom Waits track, which he sang in the middle of the night next to a nightingale in a nature reserve. Sending out the tracks via email, Cosmo explained that it felt appropriate to release the tracks on Earth day, to "help shed light on the beauty of our natural soundscapes but also their fragility." Nightingales are a famously musical bird and the source of music music and literary adoration historically, but they're endangered, with their population falling in the UK by 93% in the last 50 years. He added that he "also thought it would be nice to share some bird song at a time that many people around the world may not have access to the outdoors or be able to hear bird song for a while."

If you have a spare three hours (or just a few minutes) I implore you to check out the Singing with Nightingales live stream event which took place a few evenings ago courtesy of Sam Lee and The Nest Collective. A bunch of artists joined Sam, via the internet, for live and pre-recorded songs and readings set to the live song of the nightingales, recorded from a wood in Sussex. Cosmo appeared alongside Nick MulveyJohnny FlynnIsobel Waller-BridgeChris Packham, and lots more. You can check the full video here, it's well worth a watch and a listen.

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 27 April 2020

WATCH: Jack Garratt - 'Better'

Time for the perfect Monday tonic... (I originally wrote 'Monday morning' before realising that it was in fact almost 4pm - how did that happen?!) Jack Garratt returned to our lives and our playlists earlier in the year with the world premiere of his first new music in a few years. Time arrived as the lead track to Vol. 1 of his sophomore album Love, Death & Dancing. And it was, and is, a tune. Complete with a music video that gives off big 'dance like nobody is watching' energy. Fast forward a couple of months, and Jack recently shared Vol. 2 of the album.

The lead track of this part is a song called Better which is really (really) brilliant. I can't stop listening! The music video, written and directed by Jack and Tom Clarkson, who directed the Time video, is incredible too. Also on this volume, Get In My Way and Mend A Heart are equally brilliant tunes - I'm really excited for the record. As Jack said in a post online... "there are bangers on this volume. I take zero responsibility for any furniture when you go flipping tables." 

The album Love, Death & Dancing is due on 12th June - pre-order here.

Follow Jack Garratt - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 23 April 2020

WATCH: Pêtr Aleksänder - 'Copy, Echo, Mirage'

Exciting new track and video alert from the duo that still hold the title for most viewed post on the blog (fun fact!) Following up their recent single The Something Else, contemporary-classical duo Pêtr Aleksänder (Tom Hobden and Eliot James) are back with the slightly surprising Copy, Echo, Mirage. Both tracks are taken from the upcoming Another World EP which is set for release via Kin Records on May 20th, their first release since the debut album Closer, Still.

I describe the track as surprising because this time around, while they've stayed firmly rooted in the genre they've carved out for themselves, there are vocals! A haunting vocal from Tom sits atop that gorgeous blend of contemporary and classical, with strings and piano creating another soaring, cinematic track. Of the inspiration behind the track, Tom explains that it is about "being enraptured by someone but having the pains of past love never quite letting you stay in the moment. The song's underlying sentiment questions over and over whether this new relationship can go the journey without succumbing to the inevitable pitfalls that everyone faces along the way..." 

Follow Pêtr AleksänderTwitter | Facebook | Instagram.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Dizzy - 'The Sun and Her Scorch’

I've been receiving submissions to the blog for almost five years, and love that I still get excited by emails about my favourite artists. Always a treat! News of a new Dizzy album and an early watch of their new video yesterday? Sign me up. The Canadian four-piece are today sharing news of second album The Sun and Her Scorch, due for release via the dreamboats at Communion Records on July 31st. It features recent single Sunflower alongside The Magician, which is releasing today. 

The new record was recorded at Mechanicland Studios in Quebec and in frontwoman Katie Munshaw's mother's basement, produced by the band themselves and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine.) Talking about the differences between this and the band's debut, Katie explains that it was "all about the confusion and sadness of my late teens [while] this one is more about the qualities of myself that I'm not very proud of. I wanted to be completely honest about the things nobody ever wants to admit, like being jealous of your friends or pushing away the people who love you. So instead of being about romantic heartbreak, it's really about self-heartbreak." Lyrically, it all sounds a little sad, but those reflective and pensive lyrics are always paired with the band's sunny melodies, courtesy of the trio of brothers Alex, Mackenzie and Charlie Spencer - it's what makes the band's music so loveable. 

New track The Magician is also released today, with a video filmed in Katie's childhood bedroom by herself and Charlie during isolation. Pretty impressive, huh? On this track in particular, Katie says that it is a song "about wanting to magically bring a friend of mine who passed away back to life. To me 'The Magician' reeks of naivety and innocence in a way that really hurts my heart. Hoping she'll walk into my gig at the local pub, hoping to see her mom at Sobeys just to remember how similar their laughs were. Hoping for magic. It's a really emotional song for me but is masked by tricky, pretty production to make it sound almost joyful." 

Dizzy play London's Lafayette on November 18th (tickets here) - pre-order the record here.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

LISTEN: MarthaGunn - 'It's Over'

Two exciting pieces of MarthaGunn related news to share today. First up, a brand new (ish, I'm slow to share it) track, called It's Over. I'm really digging this one. Over to frontwoman Abi to tell us about the track... "We might not be able to play shows right now but that's won't stop us releasing music! I felt empowered writing this song. I was bored of writing sad break up songs. This one is a reminder that not every break up has to be sad, sometimes it's the best thing that can happen to you." Listen below!

Secondly - you're free at 6pm tonight, right? Where else would you be? The first week or so of lockdown should've seen the band touring the UK, so Abi took to Instagram to play a track or two live each night of the tour, with her bandmates and other guests (Flyte, Bear's Den, baker to the stars Frances Quinn and the like...) hopping onto the streams to play and chat. It was a great run of streams, and has no doubt led to the Into The Song idea. Curated by the band's label Communion Music and happening on their Instagram, Abi will be hosting the likes of Dizzy, Flyte, Willie J Healey, Samantha Crain, Night Flight and more, playing and discussing a track each. Tune in from 6pm on the Communion Instagram.

Follow MarthaGunn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 20 April 2020

WATCH: Declan McKenna - 'The Key To Life On Earth'

Monday again? Surely not. Time for a brilliant new music video from Declan McKenna which dropped into my inbox last week (I think...) I haven't really listened to Declan much before, but off the back of this track and video I am going to take a listen to his debut What Do You Think About The Car? and will certainly be eagerly awaiting his brand new record, Zeros. Sadly, the release for the record has been put back from May to 21st August but I'm sure it'll be more than worth the wait, and we've got a couple of singles to be delving into for now. New track The Key To Life On Earth sees Declan's trademark blend of indie pop and psychedelic sounds, but it's the video which really drew me in. After a while being mutually compared to one another by fans, Declan managed to get none other than The End Of The F***ing World star Alex Lawther to act alongside him in the video and the result is superb.

He explains that "The Key To Life On Earth reflects on mundanity and hostility. I suppose it's set in suburbia much like my hometown. The video sees two people, who are very similar, in conflict with each other, and I think that's the simplest analogy for the song's purpose." 

On working with Alex, he adds that he was "someone I've wanted to work with for a long time [...] I was trying to get in contact after seeing how much people compared us online [...] We met up for tea a few times and found out we really did have a lot of mutual passions and ideas, and we shared and compared our experiences of working in our respective creative worlds. We hung out at the Extinction Rebellion and I ended up playing him some of my album. We were both keen to work together but syncing up timewise was pretty challenging. We eventually pulled together with the video's director Will Hooper [...] we finally managed to lock in a date to make this video - and just in time as it turns out." 

Declan's new record Zeros is due for release on 21st August - pre-order it here.

Follow Declan McKenna - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday 19 April 2020

ALBUM NEWS: Haux - 'Violence In A Quiet Mind’

With a string of singles and a couple of EPs under his belt, the first of which was released back in 2016, it seems surprising that Haux (AKA photographer-turned-musician Woodson Black) is only just announcing news of his debut album. Delve deeper into his story, and you'll find the reasons for the wait; the album is an intensely personal collection of tracks which reflect on his experiences of cancer, substance abuse and an accidental overdose within those close to him. Black describes the record as being about "being honest after hiding for so many years [...] like a self-guided therapy session [...] an album for people who naturally hide their true feelings; people that look OK on the outside but are struggling on the inside, people who think they don't deserve to get the help they really need."

The first taste of the record arrives in new single Heavy, a track recalling the moment that he discovered that his Aunt Alice had died of an accidental overdose. He shares that "I remember I was walking back from a show in Boston and I got a phone call from my mum and I kind of just crumpled there on the sidewalk, tearing up. I wrote 'Heavy' about that time. I kind of stepped into her shoes for a little bit and wrote it from her perspective, or at least what I imagined it to be." It's a stunning track and, although it's bound to be a heartbreaking listen, I'm really excited to hear the record in full.

The debut album from HauxViolence In A Quiet Mind was produced by Thomas Bartlett (RhyeSufjan Stevens) and is set for release via Color Study on June 26th. Pre-save it here.

Follow Haux - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 16 April 2020

LISTEN: Dizzy (MUNA remix) - 'Sunflower'

Happy... Thursday? April? Maybe?! No posts for a few days as I've been busy tinkering away behind the scenes with the spreadsheet I use to organise basically every single aspect of the blog. Lots of hours and many tweaks later and I'm loving it even more than I did (spreadsheet nerd here) and even created a 'Milestones' table to stare at if I ever get confused about why I spend so much of my time rambling away here. Looking back at how blown away I was to reach 10,000 page views after about nine months, to now be nearing 150,000 page views is slightly overwhelming.

Time for a song. I don't have much to say about this one because I want to let the song speak for itself. I shared the new Dizzy track Sunflower recently - they're a Canadian band I first discovered at The Great Escape a couple of years back, and whose debut album Baby Teeth I completely adore. One of the greatest achievements of my life is getting a couple of my friends to love it as much as I do when we worked at HMV and listened to it a lot. (A lot.) I'm not always much of a fan of remixes but I am loving what MUNA have done with Sunflower. It feels like new music isn't really getting through to me so much at the moment, it's a bit easier to fall back on old favourites, but this got through and I am LOVING it. On repeat.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Follow MUNA - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 13 April 2020

LISTEN: Hailaker - 'Holding, Pt.1'

Happy drowning-in-chocolate weekend, folks. I'm slow at posting at the moment but music isn't letting up! The last couple of weeks have seen some of my favourite additions yet to the 2020 playlist, and a few days ago, a very welcome addition came in the form of a surprise Hailaker EP. Holding, Pt. 1 is the first part (of three) of their brand new record, releasing in full over the next few weeks. Cause for celebration!

If the project is new to you, it's the brainchild of Jemima Coulter and Ed Tullett, with a little music help from a bunch of their friends, including Ed's collaborator, Ali Lacey (AKA Ali Lacey). Their self-titled debut album was one of my favourite records of 2019, it's sublime. Sharing news of the new record online, the duo explained that it was written in a cottage in Swanage over a Summer, and recorded at Ali's place in September 2018. Can't wait to hear more, but for now... listen below!

Follow Hailaker - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday 9 April 2020

LISTEN: BE GOOD - 'Reflection of the Moon'

Alright, it's not *all* bad. There's a new BE GOOD track in our lives, for a start. Bloody love these guys. They're one of my favourite new(ish) bands and there is something very comforting about having new music from them. Reflection of the Moon is currently sitting at the top of my 2020 playlist, alongside new tracks from the likes of Dizzy, Liz Lawrence, Spector and more - listen & follow here.

Aaaand back to BE GOOD. The new track is poignant for the situation we find ourselves in, though it was written just before people started to self-isolate. In a chat with tmrw (read their full post here) vocalist Ash describes the song as celebrating "the peace that can be found in small everyday moments [...] Mundane domestic activities can bring a certain sense of comfort, especially when everything else feels so out of control. We wanted to make glossy and celebratory music out of that little feeling. This song was written before everyone was self-isolating, but since we started having to spend all our time indoors, some of the themes in the song took on a new resonance."

Follow BE GOOD - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

WATCH: Siv Jakobsen - ‘Fight or Flight’

I'm finding myself listening to a lot of dreamy, folk-y music at the moment (think Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Lucy Rose and the like.) The world is a little bit crazy and these genres can really help to bring some relaxation and slow everything down. Where better to look than Siv Jakobsen, who recently shared the third and final single from upcoming album A Temporary Soothing. The album has unfortunately been pushed back until 21st August, with tour dates now taking place in September - we'll just have to be patient!

Talking about the new track, Siv said that "I had this image of a very old couple lying in bed together - still and stuck to the bed-frame, at the end of their life, taking their final breaths together. The song developed into a broader look upon what it is to stay with someone forever, to make that decision and be certain about it. To love someone and to receive love isn't always easy, and giving yourself to someone so completely can be frightening and all consuming." In a post online she explained that the video was shot and directed by Jorgen Bare while they were touring in Japan last year - showing footage of their travels in Tokyo and the mountain village Hijiori.

Follow Siv Jakobsen - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

WATCH: Low Island - 'Search Box' (live from Oxford)

Remember gigs? I've been living near constantly in instagram live gigs for the past couple of weeks, but I'm currently having my mind blown by footage from an... *actual* gig. Back in Autumn, the ever-magnificent/mind-blowing/bewilderingly talented Low Island chaps headed out on a UK tour to celebrate the release of their brilliant new Shut out the Sun EP. For one reason or another, I didn't make it along to the tour, so I am super excited to hear that they recorded some live videos at the  hometown Oxford show, at my beloved old local venue The Bullingdon. They recently shared footage of In Person, and today share Search Box - there's a longer video with all of the EP coming soon... I've had a sneak peak and it's pretty glorious.

When Search Box was first released (alongside a music video and their own online search bot) I wrote in a post that "they are absolutely killing it [...] the lyrics are set alongside some glorious instrumentation that I can imagine going down an absolute treat at a Low Island gig." From the video (below) I can see that I was absolutely right.

It's somehow been over two years since I last saw the band live and while I was most certainly blown away at the time, these live videos are on a different, face-melting kind of level. They've certainly been finding their feet when it comes to the live show. Every aspect of the performance, from Carlos' impressive and commanding showmanship and the crazy musical talent on show right down to the stage set-up/lighting ties together to make something pretty perfect. A note on the stage design - it was a production designed for the tour, supported by the Arts Council, with the stage design aiming to reflect the themes of online loneliness and isolation that the EP itself explores.

If you need me, you'll find me watching this in a dark room and pretending that I'm at a gig.

Follow Low Island - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 2 April 2020

WATCH: Holly Humberstone - 'Falling Asleep At The Wheel'

This has been out for a couple of weeks now, but what is time at the moment anyway... it's the new track and video from Grantham based singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone. While she's spent the last couple of years performing at festivals around the country and supporting Lewis Capaldi in Europe, she's a new name to me, coming onto my radar recently when she was announced for the new Tracks Festival from Communion (sadly now cancelled and launching in 2021 instead.) With her artist bio citing the likes of HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers and Lorde as inspirations, you can hear those influences and more in this lovely new track, her second single.

Sharing the track online, Holly wrote "this song means so much to me. I wrote it a while ago and it was probably the first time I felt like I knew who I was within the music I was making. I loved creating it at my weird home, where the seasons were shifting, with the legend Rob Milton."

Follow Holly Humberstone - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.