Tuesday 12 December 2023

LISTEN: Asha Jefferies - 'Keep My Shit Together'

So. Festive songs. How do we feel? To be completely honest, when I'm delving through a full inbox of submissions, the festive tracks are usually the first to go. The overly joyful ones aren't really for me. Sadder festive songs however - sign me up. Recent favourites include Fenne Lily's Christmas Alone, Sunflower Thieves' It's Not Like The Christmas Films and a version of O Holy Night from Stornoway (I mean really, how could I possibly resist that?!) 

Thankfully, this one slipped through the net, and didn't make a direct line for the bin - I'm reaaaally liking Keep My Shit Together from Brisbane based Asha Jefferies. With a string of festival slots, support tours (Stella Donnelly - big yes) and awards under her belt, Asha's debut album looks set for release next year, and I can't wait to hear more. 

Keep My Shit Together was produced and mixed by Sam Cromack of Brisbane band Ball Park Music in his studio Prawn Records. Asha's music is at once euphoric and vulnerable, coming from a place of a young woman learning to express her queerness. On this one, she's testing her bravery in the face of 'milestone-induced anxiety' (celebrating Christmas with a new partner) and like I said, I'm very much here for it. 

On the track, Asha explains: "Keep My Shit Together was written one hot and sweaty day around my piano in December. While feeling stuck and existential, this song is an ode to bringing lightness to hot and heavy feelings around Christmas time. We recorded this in mid-December, air-con cranking and all in organised matching white tank tops."

Follow Asha Jefferies - Facebook | Instagram.

Thursday 7 December 2023

ALBUM NEWS: The Staves - 'All Now'

The Staves are back! Album announcement time! Isn't it exciting????!!! 

It feels like time has been a little bit wobbly for the past few years - somehow, their last album came out in early 2021, meaning there will have been just over three years between albums. We are ever so deserving of this new album. That 2021 record, the excellent Good Woman, was my album of the year. My most listened to album of that year, the first show that I got to after the various lockdowns - a record that really unlocked a deeper love of this band for me. A little bit exciting that they're back with a new one then.

Produced by John Congleton and their first release via Communion Records (I mean - a perfect fit if ever I saw one?!) All Now arrives on 22nd March 2024, and features recent single You Held It All (again - excellent) and this new single, the glorious title track. 

On the track, Jess and Camilla say "it's a stream of consciousness about frustration and feeling overwhelmed with modernity. Kind of a rejection of the performative way we have to express ourselves now in order for it to be deemed valid." 

Discussing the video, which was directed by James Arden, the pair add "We were in love with the old footage of singer songwriters performing in shows like 'The Old Grey Whistle Test', and the way the audience hung on the singer's every word. We wanted to play with the idea of 'All Now' being an ideology and a message. Something that came from artists and creatives, but is then hijacked and commodified by corporate creeps, preaching the message to gain power."

All Now arrives 22nd March 2024 - you can pre-order and check out US, Europe and UK tour dates here.

Follow The Staves - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

A (sort of) love letter to live music and community

December - goodness. Many of you will know that I work in a bookstore, and can probably imagine just how busy and stressful that is right now. Carrying stacks of books (and everything else) from section to section, fielding queries, recommending books. It is at once the best and worst time to work in a bookstore. Helping people to choose gifts can be kind of magical, but retail definitely presents you with the worst of people - sadly not even bookshops are immune to that.

As ever, music is a big salvation, and beyond my headphones and the blog inbox, it has been a delight to find time to escape to a bunch of gigs over the past couple of months. A quick scan of my gig list tells me I’ve been to fourteen shows so far this year, in various forms… including an album launch on a nature reserve, in-stores at Rough Trade and Banquet Records, and even a night at the British Library. Varied and always brilliant. For the majority of those I was on the guestlist/given tickets by the artists and their teams. Getting invited along to shows was always one of the best blog perks, and I feel really lucky to still get asked, despite blogging a little less frequently.

Aren’t gigs great?

I’ve been going through some stuff lately… I’ve talked a little about this online, but the long and short is that I’ve come to realise that I might be autistic. I’m in the very early stages of looking into getting an assessment. The more I read about autism, about it in general, about other people’s experiences, the more I feel that I am coming to understand myself better, how my brain works, and how I form (or more accurately, struggle to form) connections with others. I've  come to realise that it probably isn't "normal" that I've always just felt a bit odd, a bit of an outsider, quiet, and that there might be a reason that I sometimes struggle to communicate, to make connections that others seem to do so easily.

Music, though, has always been one of the few ways that I could connect with others. With artists, their teams, with fans who share my love of a particular artist. The blog you’re on now is in a way the centre of a community of sorts that I have formed around myself, rooted in a love of music and of the people making music.

I love live music but gigs aren’t always the easiest experience - they can be loud and overwhelming. I look around at groups of people from my spot in the corner, where I'm probably alone reading a book in between sets. But gigs can be, and often are, pure magic. Transcendent. A couple of shows I’ve been to recently were exactly that - Johnny Flynn and Rob Macfarlane at Rough Trade East and Bear’s Den at Union Chapel.

Johnny and Rob’s show was one of a couple of album launch in-stores for The Moon Also Rises and it was stunning. Far from the scripted, rehearsed and polished world of the Lost In the Cedar Wood show I went to at The Globe last year (and wrote about here) this was endearingly chaotic. A bunch of friends having fun and reliving the experiences of recording the album together through conversation and song. Even for a relatively small and short in-store like this, Johnny roped in three vocalists who sang on the record to perform with him, which was breathtaking.

Rob came on stage to chat with Johnny for a short while about the process of making the record (at Cosmo Sheldrake’s studio, with a bunch of their pals) and he mentioned something which really resonated with me - about Johnny creating community around his music. A record like this and a performance like that doesn’t come around by accident… Johnny has forged a close community of creatives around him over the years, and it comes across so beautifully in the recordings and the performance. In fact, Johnny talked about this being his favourite way to make music on a recent radio interview

I wanted to write about this, and about how great the show and album were, but work (and life) got in the way, and I haven’t found the time.  Then I went to see Bear’s Den at Union Chapel and I felt the exact same sensation that was so tangible while watching Johnny, and I wanted to write about that show - and the two posts have merged themselves, to become this stream of thoughts you're stumbling across now.

The magic of the Den playing four nights in such a special venue is no accident, nor are the gorgeously talented musicians joining them on stage (brass AND strings… aaaaagh.) They’ve helped to create this through Kev's label Communion and through their music, through years of touring, of making connections. They’ve surrounded themselves with so many brilliant artists and to see them seemingly still so humbled to work alongside them all is genuinely beautiful as an audience member.

I'm rambling... but I guess this is all to say that I sometimes struggle to find exactly where I fit in, to find my 'tribe' as it were. I often feel that I’m on the outside looking in, admiring these musical communities and not feeling like I could ever be part of them. Through the blog, and through gigs like these two, I feel like I’m able to dip my toes in, to venture into these communities, even if just for a night, and that is magic enough for me. (Though I would also very much like to be a fly on the wall for a recording session at Cosmo's place...)

Now: onto the next gig!

Tuesday 14 November 2023

LISTEN: Emma Gatrill - 'Out Of The Dark'

We might be nearing the end of the year and album of the year round-ups can't be far off (yikes) but there are still some exciting new releases on the horizon. One of the things I'm particularly excited for is Come Swim, the new record from Brighton based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and all-round musical good egg Emma Gatrill, which arrives on November 24th via Willkommen Records

I've shared a couple of the singles here already as I think they're brill (I particularly love Adonis Blue - especially as I heard it around the time I saw one!) and I'm not stopping yet, here's Emma's latest gorgeous single Out Of The Dark. Harp, strings, synths, harmonies - there's a little bit of everything, and I'm all over it. 

Talking about the new track, Emma explains that it is "a song about searching for the light in the darkness, trying to discover the best in ourselves and those around us. We have to be the first to change to bring about change. It pays homage to the fabulous Kristin McClement whose song 'Pursue the Blues' was inspirational to this tune. For this album I asked lots of different drummers to record me beats to write to. This song was crafted to a beat written by Jamie Whitby-Coles but then took its own direction. The drum machine ended up replacing the original drums as it added the grit and drive that the song needed."

For those of you lucky enough to have a ticket, Emma opens up for Bear's Den at the second of their four-night run at Union Chapel on Monday 27th November. Enjoy!

Follow Emma Gatrill - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday 5 November 2023

A season of Stornoway

As I sit and start to write this, it’s 24 hours since I was watching Stornoway play for the fifth time this year, at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms. Weather permitting, I’m tempted to go and see them again this week. (Spoiler: I went, of course I did.) I’ve not been to many gigs since covid, for various reasons, and at the moment it feels that there aren’t many bands that could keep getting me out of the house. Stornoway, however, are so very special to me and I have had the best time following them around over the past few months. It’s been a genuinely really inspiring ride, and I feel motivated to write a little self-indulgent ramble, so here goes.

This has been a generally shitty year for me, and like it so often does, music helps. In recent years, I’ve found a deeper love for nature and wildlife, especially birds. For a while, it felt that I’d replaced loud, busy, crowded gigs for open green spaces, swapped music for birdsong. It doesn’t have to be either or, though. Like a couple of other artists I love (hello Cosmo Sheldrake and Johnny Flynn) Stornoway bring together these joint loves in a truly beautiful way. A love of nature, a passion for environmentalism and brilliant music - an irresistible combination. Getting to see Stornoway perform a few times recently has been a real highlight of a miserable year. One of the gigs was even at a wetland centre: the absolute dream.

Now let’s rewind. I can’t claim to have been around from the start (their gorgeous debut album came out in 2010) - in fact, I stumbled across the band a little by accident, meeting bassist Oli at a Sofar Sounds show in Oxford in 2014. I’d only been living in Oxford for a couple of months, and while I’d been to a few gigs, joining the Sofar crew was the best introduction to the local scene that I could’ve had. I had been an admirer of the Sofar videos on Youtube for a while at this point, and was really excited to get the opportunity to volunteer as a photographer for the Oxford shows.

I had a camera and plenty of enthusiasm, but not much experience of taking photos at gigs, and I was certainly learning ‘on the job’, but I loved my time at Sofar - I met so many cool people (volunteers, gig-goers and artists alike) and got to attend gigs and take photos in some interesting places, many of which I’d likely never have visited otherwise. The first of these shows was at the Worcester College Common Room. Classic Oxford. Oli set up the Oxford branch of Sofar, so we met at the show, and I remember finding him on Facebook afterwards, and noticing that he was in a band, a band which seemed to have a lot of likes… I quickly realised that they were basically Oxford music royalty and started to listen.

The first time that I got the opportunity to see Stornoway perform was on Record Store Day at Truck Store on Oxford’s famous Cowley Road, in the release week of their album Bonxie. An origami bird (I still have it in the CD case) guaranteed me entry as I’d bought the album beforehand, but I was late as I’d headed into town after an early morning RSD shopping. It was so so busy (perhaps I’d underestimated how much Oxford loved them) that I literally had to squeeze in to the doorway and couldn’t see a thing as there was a wall between me and the stage. I might not have seen much, but it sounded glorious.

A few days later, I took a train to Reading with a flatmate to see them play a ‘proper’ gig at Sub89. There was birdsong playing in the venue between sets, which at the time I would probably have thought was a bit quirky, but would now appreciate as a superb artistic choice. More birdsong, always. I remember being completely transfixed by the ‘unplucked’ Josephine and watching my recording of it over and over afterwards.

They played a few acoustic shows later in the year, promoting their new Bonxie Unplucked EP, on which sits their now classic (thanks to the Co-op) The Only Way Is Up cover. Oli got me a photo pass for the Oxford show, and I felt like the coolest person wandering around the church with my camera. I remember avoiding an essay or something similarly important to go to the gig - but it was definitely worth it. They played a beautiful show (and Charlie Cunningham supported!) and I was happy with my photos, and I was certainly starting to really fall for the band.

Stornoway performing at on the Bonxie Unplucked tour

At the start of 2016, I was doing a placement module on the English Literature side of my degree, and the opportunity to work with Oli and Tom (a member of the extended Storno live band) came up. Probably a fairly tenuous link to English Literature when most of my fellow students were working at publishing houses and newspapers, but my lecturer seemed fine with it, and suddenly I was entering the world of live music promotion. As part of the placement I put on my first ever gig, and people actually came to it! The placement went well and I worked with them as community manager for a while (both at university and after graduating), avoiding some of the responsbilities of my degree while working the door for multiple gigs a week across Oxford and often going to other shows in between. 

Later that year, just before the public announcement, Oli emailed me one morning to let me know that Stornoway would soon “be no more”. Compared to some, I hadn’t been around as a fan for long, but I loved the band and was sad for my friends, as I knew how much they loved playing together. It wasn’t meant to be a hiatus or a break, they were all moving on to other projects, to other lines of work, to other countries. The finality of it made it tough news, but a farewell tour was on the horizon, which promised to be a celebration of the band.

The farewell tour happened in March 2017 and was a complete triumph - it seemed that they really were bowing out at the top of their game, with adoring fans left begging for more. Better than fading into the background, surely. I saw them play in London (and got the tea towel) and a couple of days later in Oxford at the final date of the tour. I got to hang around for most of the day (at Oxford’s New Theatre, no less) as we were promoting the show: I watched the soundcheck, had a wander backstage, watched the show, watched as fans said their hellos and goodbyes at the merch stand, and went to the after party with the best of the best of Oxford’s music scene. I never really made tons of friends at university, but the local scene was really welcoming, and Stornoway were always an integral part of it. At the end of the party, I shared a taxi with Oli & Rob’s parents as my halls of residence were close to their house. I remember sitting in the kitchen until the light switched off automatically and just having a cry that something so special was over. Stor-no-more.

I was still working with Oli and Tom at the time, and I’ve kept in touch with them beyond, and knew that the band still occasionally played together at private events, but I had no inkling that a reunion might be on the cards. Last year brought a couple of festival appearances that I couldn’t get to, and it felt a little bittersweet to know that they were playing but that I couldn’t see them. The shows were a sort of extension of the farewell tour, promoting the live album that they’d released from the Oxford show. (Aside: if you have this CD, my photo of the soundcheck is behind the CD in the case!) 

Little did we know that they’d actually been recording a new album at this point, in sheds around the country (where the best albums are made, of course) and that they’d soon be back. Properly. Who could’ve dared to hope for such a scenario?!

The band getting back together and announcing a new album was the best news to kick off Spring this year. I missed out on tickets to their comeback London gig (big sad) but soon the gig and festival announcements started to come thick and fast. I was reunited, physically and musically, with Stornoway at Cambridge Folk Festival in July. It was magnificent. I wrote about it here. The band were so so great, the crowd loved it, and I got to meet one of my favourite authors before their set. Truly the stuff of dreams.

Reuniting with Stornoway at Cambridge Folk Festival

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few weeks since then around the album release - the band invited me along to see an intimate album launch celebration at WWT’s London Wetland Centre in Barnes in September. It was definitely one of the coolest places I’ve seen a gig, as the band performed with the backdrop of the wetland behind them. Getting to birdwatch while listening to one of my favourite bands was a fairly magical experience. Parakeets were determined to feature on every song, and I saw a jay fly past at one point during the set. Lapwings out on the water too, I think!

Stornoway performing at WWT London Wetland Centre

They brought out Yijia and Fyfe Dangerfield to sing the songs they’d collaborated with them on, and were interviewed about the record afterwards by another collaborator (and all round musical/environmental hero) Sam Lee. I stuck around after the main event, and got to go out into the reeds and watch Brian and Fyfe performing Anwen a couple more times for the video below. Easier said than done, as we were directly under the shared flightpath of airplanes and birds, and while the video looks gloriously sunny, the sky was the deepest grey behind us, and the heavens opened just after this video. After helping to load the van back up (transferrable skills from working in a bookstore and carrying big ol’ piles of books all day every day) I caught a lift with the band back to Hammersmith, and felt pretty sure this wasn’t the last I’d be seeing them…

Of course I couldn’t resist going to see them at Rough Trade East a couple of days later for an instore performance - a very different setting (let’s just say that I’ll take a nature reserve over the rubbish lined streets of Brick Lane any day) but they were ever so brilliant. Before I knew it, I was going to a last minute show at Banquet Records a week or two later, on the day of the album being released. It’s a bit of a trek down to Kingston but so worth it to see them play in such an intimate setting, and to celebrate album launch day with Brian and Jon. 

A few weeks (and many many listens of the album) later I took my dad along to see them (well, he drove me) at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms. This is where I first saw The Hoosiers back in May 2011 (my first gig in a proper music venue) and it now holds even more special memories for me. Yijia opened the show with a mesmerising set and then it was time for Storno… A full band, a mind-boggling array of instruments (including: a saw, multiple trowels, a bucket of Welsh gravel, a melodica…), a setlist travelling through each of their albums, Low Island’s Felix playing an absolute blinder on drums, unplugged tracks. It had all the ingredients to be one of my favourite ever gigs (it was) and then they went and played one of my favourite songs, dedicated to me. Fairly sure I cried.

I discovered their track Boom Went The Bittern last year through a live video on Youtube from several years ago. There’s a chance I’ve heard it live before, but it has become a bit of a soundtrack of my walks in the past year or so. I’ve been slyly nudging the band to play it since Folk Fest, and on Sunday, they conceded to my badgering - it was one of the best moments of a gig ever for me, no lie.

If I was sensible, that should probably have been it, but I adored the Nottingham gig so much that I had to try and get along to another show. On Wednesday, I took two trains there and back to Cambridge, straight after a busy shift at work, and rounded off my little season of Stornoway with another beautiful show. Complete with a little bit of crowdsurfing from Oli and one of my favourite gig photos ever.

Oli crowd-surfing during Zorbing in Cambridge

So that’s that! It’s been an absolute treat to get to see Stornoway over the past few weeks - in various venues, with different line-ups, different songs. Following them around has given me a little of that gig-going confidence back, and I squeezed in a few other shows in between theirs, with a few in my calendar that I’m hoping to get to before the year is out - looking at you Johnny Flynn, BE GOOD, Chartreuse, Bear’s Den

At each Stornoway gig I've been to by myself lately, I've connected with people in the queue or at the barrier. They've had a little of the magic of those Sofar gigs, providing the opportunity to chat to like-minded folk who are into nature and music. Stornoway fans are a lovely bunch. The band, it goes without saying, are wonderful humans too. They're touring again in February (you should go) and I'm hoping to make it to a show or two then. 

For now: I love you, Stornoway. I am so so glad that you're back, and I'm certainly not the only one. The world, my world, is better for having Stornoway in it. 

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

WATCH: BE GOOD - 'Donuts'

Good news alert! Oxford (via Berlin, nowadays) sweethearts BE GOOD are back with an absolute banger. In the kinda, indie bedroom-pop sense of the word, of course. I've loved these guys an obscene amount since I lived in Oxford and Donuts is their first new track since last April. No pressure then... Luckily, it's a beaut. Obviously. It's late, and I'm struggling to formulate words to just tell you how much I love this band: I'll let the music speak for itself.

The good news keeps coming: if you like what you're hearing here (and why wouldn't you?!) you're in luck, as BE GOOD headline The Lexington in a few weeks, on 16th November. See you at the front? Tickets available here.

Follow BE GOOD - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

LISTEN: Chartreuse - 'Whippet'

"I'm grasping the neck of all of my friends singing I deserve the same as you do."

Chartreuse never disappoint, and I'm a little in love with this one. I should probably be heading to sleep, but I feel compelled to write as I've just listened to their new single a few times in a row and then fallen into a little Chartreuse shaped rabbit hole. Love them and love this one a lot! They recently announced their debut album Morning Ritual, which is due for release via Communion Music on 10th November - Whippet is the latest single to be taken from it. 

With Hattie on lead vocals on this one, she describes how the track was inspired by a conversation she had with a friend at the pub about life plans and 'settling down.' "She was asking me what my plans were, and I said I didn't know. A lot of our friends have serious careers, and we're in a band. I felt bitter about having to have the conversation, so the line "left like a whippet" is me wanting to leave and stop talking about it."

If you like what you hear - they're heading on tour across November: dates and tickets here. They've also just announced a few instore shows, tickets here.

Pre-order/pre-save Morning Ritual here.

Follow Chartreuse - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Sunday 15 October 2023

ALBUM NEWS: Johnny Flynn & Robert Macfarlane - 'The Moon Also Rises'

For a bunch of reasons, I've been pretty bad at blogging lately. My head is in a bit of a weird place at the moment and being back to full time at work is exhausting - it's hard to find the time around everything, to be honest. I think that I've also perhaps felt a little distant from music/the blog in general lately... I haven't been to many gigs since lockdown, and writing about artists I'd seen live when I was living in Oxford was how the blog really started to take off in the first place. 

Recently, however, I've had a whirlwind couple of weeks of gigs in London: first up, three Stornoway album release shows for their record Dig The Mountain! which came out last week, and just hit #7 in the album sales chart. Incredible! They played beautiful sets at Banquet Records and Rough Trade East and the launch event at WWT London Wetland Centre was such a special afternoon. Next, my forever favourites The Hoosiers playing one of the best shows I've seen them play at London's KOKO (enough said). And earlier this week, Christof van der Ven headlining in London for the first time in a few years and me getting to rub shoulders with blog favourites Bear's Den and The Staves. I'm eyeing up some more gigs soon... music is pretty great, huh? 

I'm feeling a teeny bit inspired by it all, so I'm making a tentative return to trying to ramble about music - and where better to start than the return of one of my absolute favourite musical pairings, Johnny Flynn and Robert Macfarlane. Separately, they're one of my favourite musicians and one of my favourite writers, and together they make art that I adore. Lost In The Cedar Wood is a favourite album and the accompanying performance was stunning, and I loved getting the chance to chat to Rob about it earlier this year at Cambridge Folk Festival, where he told me exactly what I wanted to hear, that they'd been working on more music, and it was imminent...

A few weeks ago, the pair officially announced that they'd made a new record. Hallelujah! The Moon Also Rises is releasing via the beautiful label Transgressive on 10th November, and it features the first single Uncanny Valley: 

In his announcement of the record, Rob wrote: 

It’s about darkness and light, winter & spring, burial and revelation, stories, weather and seasons, ghosts and paths and love and rivers, and other bits and bobs and pots and pans.

We sort of just kept on writing songs after finishing Lost In The Cedar Wood; some of them we found by walking tracks & rainy woods & streams together, & some by noodling in notebooks, & some in poems & stories, & almost all by laughing a lot.

Working & making with Johnny is just one of the great joys of my life. He’s a quiet, gentle, generous genius with a huge gift for making collaborative, creative connections between people. He’s also very funny. 

Charlie Andrew is on producing duties, and the album features much of Johnny's Sussex Wit band as well as the Sheldrakes, Cosmo and Merlin. You basically couldn't imagine a lovelier and more wholesome bunch of creatives to make music together, and the results are unsurprisingly gorgeous. Second single No Matter The Weight is out now. Almost frustratingly brilliant. 

Pre-order/pre-save the new record here.

Follow Johnny Flynn - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Follow Robert MacfarlaneTwitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

LISTEN: The Staves - 'You Held It All'

You heard it here first: I'm well and truly back in my The Staves era. So many of my favourite artists are coming back with new songs and albums at the moment and I have fallen pretty hard for this one. The duo are back with You Held It All, their first release via Communion Records (a match made in heaven, I think?) and their first new music since the 2021 album Good Woman (my album of the year.) It is almost TOO good?! I haven't much to say, apart from that I love these sisters so much. Crossing my fingers that there's an album on the way, but for now, I'll happily listen to this one on repeat...

On the track, the band share: "You Held It All is a song about understanding, and the knots we tie ourselves in when we don't express our truth; and how much power and freedom there can be when we do."    

Follow The Staves - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 7 September 2023

LISTEN: Stornoway - 'The Navigator' (feat. Sam Lee)

Months on, it still doesn't seem quite real that Stornoway are back but they really are - they're several festivals down, have an instore tour and a regular tour on the way, and their new album Dig The Mountain! arrives on October 6th. What a time to be alive! The new music keeps arriving and I think that you could hardly wish for a more dreamy coming together of voices than Brian Briggs and Sam Lee. I'm certain that the band's new track The Navigator is something I dreamt up. I think I must like it a fair bit - a couple of weeks after release it is already in my top three most streamed songs of the year. That good! 

On the track, Brian shares: “this song was inspired by [a] sailing adventure with friends. For me there is no more powerful way to get perspective than to go in a small boat out of sight of land. There is surely no wilder place, no situation where you feel smaller or more vulnerable. We had no choice but to tune deeply into the shifting wind and waves that governed our days. Worries and problems shrank and were blown away. And a shared sense of isolation brought us together as a motley crew, whilst also making us question where we were going in our own lives. 

It was a pleasure to record Sam Lee’s rich, woody baritone on a warm, May day in a Gloucestershire woodland. He made a wonderful addition to the crew!" 

Sam adds: “The wait is over and Stornoway have returned with a bounty of utterly stunning songs. It seems their time away from playing has only made them a better band!”

Dig the Mountain! arrives 6th October - pre-order/pre-save here. Also very much worthy of note is the exciting news that the band are re-issuing their debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill on vinyl via the lovely Dinked (details here) on 8th December. You can pre-order that from a selected bunch of independent record stores (I'd recommend Resident Records in Brighton for a brilliant postal service if like me you don't have one particularly local to you!) 

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Follow Sam Lee - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

LISTEN: Bombay Bicycle Club - 'I Want To Be Your Only Pet'

Welcome to the latest in a long line of: songs I'm obsessed with. Bombay Bicycle Club are just the absolute best, aren't they? I am living for the promo they're doing for their upcoming record. Digging up MSN conversations from the early days of the band? Too pure. A karaoke instore tour where fans got up on stage and performed as part of the band? Incredible. They're clearly having a great time promoting the album, performing and making music at the moment and I'm very much here for it! 

I Want To Be Your Only Pet is the latest in a run of superb singles from the album - with a properly classic Bombay riff that just seems to get better on each listen. The idea of this one rushing over me at a gig some time soon... yes please?! P.S - I managed to sneak an early listen and the entire album is brill, obviously.

On the new track, Jack shares: "I was just playing around with guitar sounds at soundcheck, and started playing this riff. Jamie must have heard something in it because he got out his phone and started recording. For the next few months he would constantly text me to ask "have you written a song around that riff yet?" So finally I did to stop him harassing me. To me it sounds like if Abbey Road era Beatles had a love child with Rated R era Queens of the Stone Age." 

My Big Day is due for release on 20th October - pre-order/pre-save here.

Follow Bombay Bicycle Club - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday 31 August 2023

WATCH: Francis of Delirium - 'Real Love'

Hello again! Two posts in two days? Who is she?? Short answer: I'm SO obsessed with this beautiful new video from Francis of Delirium that I instantly needed to share it. I've loved the project for years, and loved this track when it came out back in July. The new video, co-written and co-directed by Jana herself along with Rares Matei, is a gorgeous representation of a young blossoming relationship. Too pure. 

Talking about the track, Jana shares: "'Real Love' at its heart is a simple song about being in love with your best friend. For years, timing got in the way. I got in my own way, and then finally, it worked out. Coming out of a two-month-long tour in the US and heading into summer back at home, it felt like my world was opening up. I wanted to write a song that reflected the feeling of leaning into vulnerability, a song that embraces telling the people you love what they mean to you and truly meaning it. Spending every night watching The Districts on tour really impacted me. There was this hopefulness I heard in their music that I really connected to. After writing our last EP ‘The Funhouse’ which was all about darkness and the feeling of being engulfed by the chaos of the world, I just couldn’t write anything super dark and heavy at the time, it just wouldn’t come out. My body and brain were just guiding me to writing lighter, more open music."

Follow Francis of Delirium - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 30 August 2023


(Hi!) I feel like I'm always writing something, apologising for barely writing anything, and then disappearing again before repeating the cycle. Back again! A lot is happening in my brain at the moment but as always music is a comfort, and while I don't have as much time to share it here as I'd like, I'm still listening! Adoring the new Willie J Healey album Bunny at the moment and v v much looking forward to the release of this one. SUPERMAN is the latest track from VC Pines, who shares his debut album MRI on 8th September. I think it must have been four years since I started listening to Jack's music - following various singles and EPs, and I'm excited to see this album find its way into the world. He's a special artist! 

On the new track, VC Pines shares: "'SUPERMAN' is about biting off more than you can chew and self sabotage. There are people in your life who mean more to you than life itself, but you let things get in the way, and you lose sight of what's important, until it's too late... It's also very easy to promise more to those you love, than you can deliver. So you live in this constant state of feeling like you've let everyone down, which is a dark dark place.

"I wrote this song with two mates who I've known for years. They recently started renting a studio in Dalston, but only have it at night times, so this was written and produced at around 3am under Stoke Newington high street.

"I've recently started working on my FOMO - Since writing this, I realised that I was saying yes to EVERYTHING and then being exhausted for, or missing the things that really mattered. I think that's what happens when I write, a lot of it is my subconscious, and I only realise how I've been feeling until the song is finished."

MRI is due for release on 8th September - pre-save the album here.

Follow VC Pines - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 14 August 2023

WATCH: Emma Gatrill - 'Adonis Blue'

Oh hi! We're back to writing blog posts too late, when I should be getting to sleep... but I haven't posted in a while and the press release for this one was sitting in my inbox whispering sweet nothings to me. I've just had a week off work and headed down to the South coast, to East Sussex. A trip to Brighton gave me aaaaaall of the The Great Escape memories from my couple of years there. A walk along the cliffs at Beachy Head provided the unexpected acrobatic trio you didn't know you needed - airplanes practicing overhead for this week's airshow, swallows dancing through the skies before their migration back to Southern Africa, and smaller still, some fancy blue butterflies. Back at the hotel, I had a look through my guidebook and lo and behold - we'd been admiring the Adonis Blue! Ooft. A real stunner!

Skip forward to staring at my inbox this evening, looking at the various tracks and announcements I'd like to try and write about and.... this one jumped out to me. Sussex resident and all round good egg/performer in many brilliant bands Emma Gatrill has just shared her new single Adonis Blue (you guessed it) and it is just as beautiful as its namesake. The track also features Conor O'Brien of Villagers - big yes to that!

The track arrives with news of Emma's new album Come Swim, arriving 24th November on Wilkommen Records, and featuring contributions from Emma's partner Marcus Hamblett (who also oversees production) as well as Helen Whitaker (flute) and Andrew Stuart Buttle (violin). More on the record over the next few months!

On the track, Emma shares: “Adonis Blue is a rare butterfly, the males have brilliant sky blue wings with a fine black line around the edge. I spent the summer on a quest wandering the South Downs in the hope of spotting this butterfly. The track is about searching for things that are hard to find but accepting that the quest itself can fulfil desires. It’s about the adventure and all that we find along the way. Conor is such an inspirational musician and it was an absolute honour to work with him on this song. The beat he crafted really weaved itself into the orchestration and his trumpet really makes the song for me!”

Follow Emma Gatrill - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

WATCH: Stornoway - 'It's Not Up To You' (feat. Yijia)

Can somebody explain to me how it is August already? I've been neglecting the blog lately - it's so hard to find time to write around work and other commitments, but I promise I'm trying to get things back to some sort of normality/a higher frequency of posts. Rest assured if I'm not writing as much, I'm still obsessing over new music in the background - and I'm very much in that place with Stornoway at the moment. If you know me or the blog, you probably know how much I love the band, and I'm all sorts of excited to share the latest track from their upcoming album Dig The Mountain! (due 8th September). It's Not Up To You is a Bj√∂rk cover, featuring Yijia, and I'm a little bit in love with it. 

The accompanying video, directed by the band's live violinist Susie Peters, sees the trio performing in Wytham Woods, just outside of Oxford, where Brian had his first conservation job (monitoring blue tit and great tit nest sites) after university. Watching them play in amongst the trees with the dappled light coming through the beech leaves... agh. The video is as beautiful as the track itself - a rare achievement.

Talking about the release, the band share: "we've always been hugely inspired by Bjork's fearless spirit and we particularly love this song from her 'Vespertine' album. We replaced electronics with acoustic instruments and vocal effects and changed the time signature, but it was once Jon and Oli got their hands on it and added piano, organ and bass that it started to soar."

You may have seen me gushing about this online already but... I saw Stornoway on Friday!!!! Friend of the blog, and my old boss, Oli got us into Cambridge Folk Festival to see the band headlining the second stage (competing with The Proclaimers, and so nearly giving us that I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) cover... you tease, Brian.) The band and their music mean so much to me - Oli and Tom gave me my first paid work in music and I've got so many lovely memories of seeing them perform. I can't quite believe they're really back.

I didn't manage to get to any of their festival slots last Summer, and the EartH gig earlier this year sold out far too fast for me (boo!) so my last show was the 2017 farewell show at Oxford's New Theatre (live album here) - I was working on the show so was there right from soundcheck through to the afterparty, it was an incredible day. Bittersweet, though, as I couldn't quite believe I wouldn't see them performing again. Fast forward six years and they're back, as brilliant as ever, and they've got new music to share. 

I'd say that I couldn't be happier, and that I couldn't love the band more if I tried... but then, well, this happened. Oli had organised for author, Johnny Flynn collaborator (!) and professor Rob Macfarlane (!!) to interview the band after the online premiere of their new video, live at the festival. I saw this was happening online and took my opportunity to try and meet Rob - he's one of my favourite authors to read and recommend, somebody whose opinion I trust deeply (if a book has a review from Rob on it, I'll probably buy it) and I adore his work with Johnny. Thankfully, Rob wasn't put off by my lingering outside of backstage to say hello, and was more than generous with his time - our conversation meandered through Stornoway, bookselling, writing, working with Johnny, my review of their show at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Johnny making me weep in The Motive and the Cue (so GOOD), wildlife and Rob's current projects. All of this happening under an oak tree, too. Poetic. 

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 24 July 2023

WATCH: Baby Queen - 'We Can Be Anything'

Late night blog ramblings incoming - stopping by to share a track I've been loving over the past few days... Baby Queen is back with We Can Be Anything, the follow-up to Dream Girl, and another track offering a taste of her forthcoming debut album. I can't waaaaait!!!!! Really enjoying We Can Be Anything, and another brill video too. 

I'll let the track do the talking, but also... on the track, Baby Queen (AKA Bella Latham) shares: "I've been having a prolonged existential crisis for the better part of the past 5 years and would consider myself to be a nihilist in many ways, which has made being alive quite bleak at times. I think human beings really crave purpose but there is ultimately no clear-cut reason we're here and if there is one, we're just not intelligent enough to figure it out. Despite it all, life is beautiful and i think our lack of purpose and our insignificance gives us the greatest level of freedom. Society, culture, rules, laws - these are all constructs. I like to believe that as long as you're not hurting people, you do have the freedom and the prerogative to do with your life what you will. That's what this song is about: non-confinement and non-conformity in the face of what is essentially absurdity. I just want people to listen to it and feel free - because they are free."

Follow Baby Queen - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 17 July 2023

ALBUM NEWS: Richard Walters - 'Murmurate'

I'm dreadful at posting at the moment - so many things are pulling against me, taking up my time. The blog is kind of the easiest thing to step away from a little so that I don't completely burn out... but I'm here, writing late at night (obviously) about Oxford pal Richard Walters, who has a new solo record on the way. While he's certainly been busy in the interim (a new album with his project LYR came out in the past few weeks which I'm very keen to listen to when I get a moment) Murmurate marks Richard's first solo album since 2020. Born out of the pandemic but not particularly inspired by it, the tracks on the album explore our shared feelings of having changed through isolation. Of realising that you wanted different things and experiences once the world started to open back up.

Richard explains "when the world started to wake up again post lockdown I sprinted towards the door; I bolted, with unbelievable enthusiasm and joy, and I fell. I wiped out a fair few times in my desire to get back into a routine, to return to normality. I eventually found myself moving back from the bustle and noise, a combination of anxiety and a previously unearthed desire for more and more calm... For me this is not a lockdown record. It was largely written in 2022, post weirdness, but many of the songs do tap into that sense of post-lockdown-anxiety (PLA!?) and the mixed up, confused feeling of needing to be elsewhere but feeling the tug of home.

When it comes to music, throughout lockdown I was desperate to be in the room with other people making things again. In my opinion, Zoom just doesn’t cut it when it comes to finding common musical ground and building things up. That’s where the title ‘Murmurate’ comes from - I just wanted to feel that unison again, to move in time with other songwriters and musicians, to flock and gather and soar a little bit, even if the distance from my home life made me feel torn from time to time.”

The album is previewed with first track After Midnight, about which Richard shares: "my attempt at being Springsteen! The older I get, the more home-based I become. It's a feeling I've noticed other friends my age expressing. So it's a middle aged anthem about not wanting to be out on the town post-midnight, about the beauty of the quiet life and the taxi home." 


Pre-save Murmurate here, due for release 17th November.

Follow Richard Walters - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 3 July 2023

ALBUM NEWS: Public Service Broadcasting - 'This New Noise' (live)

Current obsession - this snuck into my inbox, crept up on me and gave me a big ol' surge of happiness when I found it! Public Service Broadcasting are releasing a live album on 8th September, a recording of their BBC Proms performance This New Noise with BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jules Buckley. The Prom was a celebration of the power of radio, written in recognition of the centenary of the BBC. They're just SO brilliant, and this is them at their best. Reaaaaally good.

I feel like I write this so often, but I mean it - if PSB are new to you, you're in for SUCH a treat. They're unlike anything else that I listen to and that is easily one of the best things about them. Completely brilliant. They've got a few records under their belts already, and I'd start with the (now ten-years old!) debut Inform - Educate - Entertain, which is how I was first introduced to their music (by a friend on a train to London - there's not many artists where I can pinpoint the moment when I first listened to them, so you know they're special!) 

J. Willgoose, Esq shares: "at the time, not knowing if the Proms performance would be a true one-off, I tried to focus on enjoying the occasion as much as possible. It was a privilege to play with such skilled performers as the BBC SO and especially under such an astute guiding hand in Jules. I'm absolutely delighted that we're releasing This New Noise in physical form, and remixing it allowed me to discover all over again the intricacy and dynamism of the orchestra's performance." 

Follow Public Service Broadcasting - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 28 June 2023

WATCH: Seramic - 'Ride or Die'

You know the drill - I'm writing a blog post when I should be sleeping. Surprise! But. Big news. Did I mention how much I love Seramic? Just a few times, huh? Well. HE'S BACK!!!!!!! 

Seramic's music delivers absolute joy (I dare you to see him live or listen to a track like Greg's Love and not get on your feet and grin from ear to ear). There's an infectious energy in the music, and he's long been a favourite of mine. So of course I'm a little over-excited that Marcus just came back with his first new single in a while. 

Ride or Die is a delight - and the music video features dancing AND dogs. Like I said: pure joy. Bottle it up! Get watching this one below, and then take a deep dive into his EPs... you won't regret it. 

With Marcus having recently moved to the US, there are sadly no UK dates to report on just yet.. but as soon as something is announced, I'm there. It's somehow been five years since I saw a proper Seramic set at Bushstock 2018. Dreamy days. 

Follow Seramic - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 27 June 2023

WATCH: Divorce - 'Birds'

It's a Monday night in June and (in the words of Stornoway) I should be sleeping... but I feel compelled to write a little something as I haven't posted to the blog in a week or two. I had the last week off work so had a little holiday from the blog too - we headed to Norfolk, wandered around some of my favourite nature reserves, saw some cool wildlife (I've got a lil nature Instagram account here, btw) and ate lots. The dream.

Back to work, and blogging. This one came out a couple of weeks ago and is a stunner. It's the first release from Divorce this year and... they're just SO good, right?! Obsessed with basically everything they've put out so far. Naturally, I'm drawn in by a track called Birds, even if it has very little to do with our feathered pals. Still brilliant.  

Talking about the track, co-vocalist/guitarist Felix Mackenzie-Barrow explains "I was carrying a lot of insecurity that felt like it was piling in on me from all angles but this song was an attempt to reshape those feelings into something positive. I wanted to remind myself and all of us in the band how much belief we have in each other and in the truth of what we're doing together."  

Follow Divorce - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 15 June 2023

WATCH: Dizzy - 'Close'

The new Dizzy album drops in a couple of months on 18th August, and I'm aaaaall kinds of excited. I've been busy with work lately, spending the time I'd like to have been writing blog posts writing a big ol performance review, so I haven't had much chance to pop up here but I really wanted to share this one. Like most of the band's releases, I've had it on repeat since I first heard it. Love love love this band. If they're a new name for you, you've got a LOT to look forward to, with two previous brilliant records and what is looking to be a superb third arriving soon!

Speaking about new track 'Close', singer Katie shares: "back in 2019 we were on tour in Eau Claire, Wisconsin when the wheel bearing on our van went kaputz on American thanksgiving. It was a hard day but the only thing I can really remember about it is laughing in the mechanic's waiting room and then finding our way back to a hotel with a bottle of green room whiskey. We've been through a lot as a band but we always manage to reconnect on itchy hotel beds between episodes of Family Guy. 'Close' is about a lot of things but mainly it's about the comfort Mack, Charlie and Alex bring me." 

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

LISTEN: Stornoway - 'Bag In The Wind'

It's a Monday night in June as I write this, and that can mean only one thing... Watching Birds by Stornoway on repeat. If you know, you know. (It's a tune - get listening!) What better way to spend my Monday night than writing a post about the band's new music? 

ICYMI, Stornoway (Brian, Jon and Oli) returned last month with the brilliant new single Trouble With The Green and the best news; they've got an album - Dig The Mountain! - arriving on 8th September. It's been quite a while since their previous record Bonxie (which came out way back in 2015... when I was first discovering the band) and I am counting down the days until this new record. It arrives a week before the new record from The Hoosiers (also their first studio album since 2015) and I may as well tell you now that I will be completely insufferable for all of September... sorry not sorry!

In case you hadn't guessed, I am so so soooooo delighted to have them back making, releasing and performing new music and excited to have a couple of shows lined up later this year (read my review of my last Storno gig, the last night of their farewell show in Oxford back in 2017.) Naturally, I'm delighted to have another new single to repeat over and over in the shape of Bag In The Wind. Classic Stornoway, this. I love it. 

On the track, Brian shares: "people are a bit like bags, weighed down with worries and endless jobs, hoping for someone to take us by the handle and tip the gravity out of us... The song was born from just noodling around on the guitar, playing muted chords with all my fingertips just resting gently on the strings. I recorded two guitars and panned them fully in stereo which gave the close-up effect you hear in the verses. The vocal melody was partly inspired by the recording of the Agisanang Choir you can hear at the beginning and end of the song, singing 'Tschelane' in the Tswana language. I found the song on a favourite compilation of mine called 'African Renaissance Sampler, Music from the South African Broadcasting Corporation Archives."

You can pre-order/save the new record Dig The Mountain! here.

Get your live Stornoway fix with a festival or on their UK tour across October and November - dates and tickets here.

Follow Stornoway - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 1 June 2023

LISTEN: Matthew And The Atlas - 'Nineteen'

A number of my favourite artists have returned with new music lately - each one filling my heart and bringing me alllll of the joy. The prospect of live shows, browsing for vinyl, commutes spent devouring new albums and playing singles on repeat. Big yes. One of these artists is Matthew And The Atlas, who came back with the gorgeous Folding Unfolding back in March, a teaser of things to come. Luckily, we didn't have to wait *too* long - he's just shared new track Nineteen, alongside news of brand new album This Place We Live, due on October 13th. 

Excitingly, Matt is re-joining the Communion Records roster for this album - having been their first ever signing way back in 2010 with the release of his debut EP. Love me a bit of Communion history. (And anything to do with Communion, to be honest.) With previous record Morning Dancer having just celebrated its fourth birthday (they grow up so fast...!) I know I'm not the only one who will be eagerly awaiting this one! 

More on the record in due course (you've got a few months of me ramping up the obsession over its arrival... you lucky things) but for now, I'm loving Nineteen, and glad to have something other than On A Midnight Street, Pyres and Temple to listen to on repeat. (All are big ol tunes. Promise.)

On Nineteen, Matt shares: "I wrote 'Nineteen' during a period when I was making music but struggling to focus on a clear direction to take it in, and I began to feel like I was losing my way creatively. This led me to reminiscing on how I felt about music when I was younger. I used to run an off-licence in my early twenties and a friend of mine would always drop by. We would stand out at the front of the shop, talking about bands we loved from America, what it would be like to tour there and if we'd ever be able to do music full time. The shop was in a little Hampshire town, next to a railway line which seemed very far away from that world, but it all seemed possible still. 'Nineteen' is trying to recapture that feeling of excitement and possibility I had back then when we were kids." 

To celebrate the release of the record, Matthew And The Atlas heads on a mammoth 30-date tour across the UK and Europe in October and November. Dates and ticket info here

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

Tuesday 30 May 2023

WATCH: Mumble Tide - 'Hotel Life'

Mumble Tide are back - everybody cheer / clap / rejoice! Or all of the above. The best news. Hotel Life is their first new track of the year, releasing on Nothing Fancy Records. They were one of my fave new artists of 2021 (I think?) who have spent the past couple of years recording and touring with a bunch of brill artists (Divorce, Liz Lawrence, Personal Trainer... ooft). 

Working with co-producer Ellie Mason (of Voka Gentle) this latest batch of songs saw the duo living a nomad lifestyle, uprooting their lives (and their recording set-up) every couple of months as they moved between boats, Airbnbs, spare rooms and warehouses. If the results are all as good as this first taster, I'm excited for more. 

On the new track, vocalist Gina Leonard shares: "'Hotel Life' is a song about relinquishing control. We wrote it after Ryan's dad had a 'funny turn' whilst on a work trip in Reading and we rushed to pick him up from hospital and ended up staying the night in a weird corporate business hotel on the outskirts of the city. I think hotels can be quite confusing spaces... I like running away in my head to a kind of 'hotel life' where I can escape everyone and be completely in control of who I am. Ultimately though, that's not healthy or possible. The song is overall positive and uplifting (I hope) - it's about not giving up." 

Follow Mumble Tide - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Monday 29 May 2023

rambling about the future of CMAT (hi!)

It’s been a while since I did a rambly post like this, but I wasn’t sure how to squish my thoughts into a thread of tweets… basically the tl;dr is that I think that music blogging feels a little bit broken, but I’m refreshing my approach to it, and feeling positive.

Right now, I’m barely posting anything to the blog itself… I describe myself as a music blogger, but I’m basically a glorified email reader/inbox sorter at the moment.

Between days at work, time I give to volunteering online, and time spent doing other things I love (watching birds would get all of my time if it could) there isn’t always much time left for the blog. The time I have for it is usually spent trying my best to keep the unread number on my inbox close to zero.

The end of the week and the arrival of New Music Friday sees me tackling the inbox, trying to get through as much as I can so that when I update my playlists, I’ve listened to as many submissions as possible. So that everything gets a fair shot. As the number of weekly emails grows, playlist updates are pushed back to Sunday, Monday… by which point the torrent of emails has kickstarted for another week.

Sounds fun, right? I got into this to write about and share music that I love, and I do it for no monetary reward, simply for the love of the music. Which begs the question - why should I spend hours upon hours just dealing with an inbox and never actually sharing very much of that music that I do enjoy?

I’ve been part-time at work for a while, but the opportunity to go back to full-time just came up. It leaves me less free time, and I’d wondered about the sustainability of the blog. Will I have the time to keep it up… should I? Is it worth it?

I don’t want to lose CMAT, I’ve worked hard on it for over a decade if we go right back to the inception of the original Tumblr account. Made friends through it, met some of my favourite artists through it, discovered SO much brilliant music through it, and got into a fair few gigs through it. I love the little community I’ve fostered here. I love when people compliment my writing - this isn’t like many other music blogs, it’s often infrequent, a bit rambly, a little bit fangirl-y at times. It’s basically me, in a music blog.

If I want CMAT to carry on, something certainly needs to change. I guess I’m writing this sort of to formulate my own thoughts as much as anything (though I’d also be interested to hear from fellow bloggers/journos if my experience rings familiar with yours).

I want to try and be far less precious with the inbox - to dip in and out, taking from it the things that stand out, but not having to listen to every single thing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Think #NoMowMay but for a blog inbox. If I let it go a little wild, the gems in there will stand out. I might reply a bit less but… I don’t reply that much as it is (again - there are only so many hours in the day, sorry!)

In spending less time trying to aim for perfection, for a perfectly tidy inbox, I am hoping that I’ll have more time for the important stuff. More posts! The hope is that I can use the limited time I have for the blog in a far more productive way, move on from being a part-time email reader and actually be a blogger. Engage with the tracks that I enjoy beyond a playlist, actually write about some of them!

There is SO so so much music coming out all of the time. It’s relentless. I sense that PRs are struggling on the other side too - struggling to find space for their artists when there is just so much competition. People are often so lovely about the blog, my work on it/my writing but the priorities have been in a weird place for a while now. I’m using this opportunity to re-focus and hopefully improve things for myself and the blog, and to breathe some new life into it.

If you’ve got this far in this little self-aggrandising ramble, thank you. If I didn’t think that there were at least a few people who appreciated my writing, my email-reading, my twitter/insta fangirling, I’d probably have stopped this a while ago. Whether you’re a diehard CMAT fan (do those exist?) or you’re new here, I think you’re great, and I hope that I can introduce you to a new favourite. 

Come and say hi on Twitter / Instagram (I can't promise I'll reply but I'll love you all the same!) 

Friday 26 May 2023

LISTEN: Sivu - 'Overtime Lover'

You BET I just gasped when I noticed a stream of the upcoming Sivu album in my inbox. I'm usually terrible at finding time to listen to early streams I get sent (there are a lot, please forgive me!) but I just had to open this one up immediately and get listening. Consider this post soundtracked by the album and written with a big ol' smile on my face. The rest of you will have to wait a couple of weeks - Wild Horse Running is due on 9th June via Square Leg Records - but fear not!

New track Overtime Lover is out now and is a beautiful number... as if we expected any less. The track is the oldest from the new record, first taking shape while James was on tour with Fenne Lily, Siv Jakobsen and Paul Thomas Saunders (the line-up of dreams) in 2017. Paul was recruited to oversee production on the finished article - years in the making, and well worth the wait!

Talking about the new track, Sivu shares:

"Overtime Lover is the oldest song from the new record and actually took shape just before I went on tour. I then road tested it extensively whilst on a beautiful tour with Fenne Lily, Paul Thomas Saunders and Siv Jakobsen. Paul was incredibly complimentary of the track and we always flirted with the idea of collaborating on something as I have always loved his production. Fast forward 3 years, I left the track with Paul and he created a magical landscape for the song to sit in which I adored from the moment I heard it.

The song is based around this idea of how much of ourselves we have to give to someone else when you are in a relationship - and sometimes you crave just to keep a little bit of yourself just for you. It's lyrically quite blunt but this was an important process for my head and was imperative I got it out. I had no aspirations lyrically to dress it up, and probably from the whole album this song cuts the deepest."

Sivu headlines Courtyard Theatre in London on 14th June - tickets here.

Follow Sivu - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

WATCH: Chartreuse - 'Switch It On, Switch It Off'

Still bad at blogging. Sorry. Finding comfort in new tracks from favourites at the moment, and was really excited to find a new one from Chartreuse in the inbox a few days back. It's the first track from the band since last year's Satellites (featuring Orlando Weeks, no less) and the oh-so-brilliant Is It Autumn Already? EP which somehow came out in 2021... huh?!

They're a band who can kind of do no wrong in my eyes (though if they returned with some out of character death metal I might not vibe with it quite so much... but, you never know) and exactly what I'm looking for at the moment. There's only so much Stornoway I can listen to on repeat (OK, that's a lie). ANYWAY. Basically, Switch It On, Switch It Off is gorgeous and you should probably stop what you're doing and listen to it now.

On the track, vocalist Mike Wagstaff shares: "I wish I could control the switch in my head from overthinking and negativity. Through the verses, Switch It On, Switch It Off darts between memories, fantasies, daydreams and landscapes - snapshots from a busy mind. You have to observe and take them in quickly before they pass."

Chartreuse head out on a UK tour this November - dates and tickets here

Follow Chartreuse - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 9 May 2023

LISTEN: Ezra Williams - 'Until I'm Home'

ICYMI on Twitter / Instagram - the blog turned 8 this week! Happy birthday, website I pour many many words into.

I've been bad at posting things here for a bunch of reasons, but I want to do my best to share more when I'm able to... and I'm excited by this. Ezra Williams (of Heartstopper soundtrack fame with My Own Person - the track that plays as Nick starts to question his sexuality... and is all sorts of brilliant) has an album on the way!!!! Supernumeraries is due on 16th June, and new track Until I'm Home just dropped - featuring Sammy Copley. They're both dreamboats and I love this one. 

Talking about the track, Ezra says: "I wrote this song on the train home from hanging out with my girlfriend at the time. I overthink everything and cannot be left alone with my own thoughts for a second or I'll feel like the world is collapsing in on me." 

Follow Ezra Williams - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Follow Sammy Copley Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 13 April 2023

LISTEN: Benedict Benjamin - 'Hanging By A Thread'

"hanging by a thread, tryna keep it all in check, oh I lost my grip a while ago and haven't found it yet"

Nobody does lyrics like Benedict Benjamin

Alright, maybe they do. But he's still pretty good at them. Hanging by a Thread is the latest single to be taken from Ben's upcoming record Tunnel, which is due in a couple of months. He's one of my favourite artists, creator of gorgeous sad tunes and two brilliant previous albums, Truant and Night Songs. This record is another stunner and despite our circumstances not entirely overlapping, there's always something reassuringly relatable in the lyrics. Not least as this record was written through and about the issues of isolation and anxiety that arose through lockdown, as a way of working through them.

On the new single, Ben shares: "I wrote it at a point in lockdown where I was having some trouble and couldn’t provide support to the people in my life that needed me. I was having these sudden mood swings that I couldn’t get a handle on and it was scary. The song is a thank you to the people that showed patience and love and helped me out of the hole and it’s a pledge to return the favour."

Tunnel is due 9th June, and you can pre-order it on Bandcamp here.

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