Friday 31 March 2023

EP NEWS: Cosmo Sheldrake - 'Wild Wet World'

Perhaps I shouldn't have favourites, but there are few artists that I love more than Cosmo Sheldrake. Fiercely creative, a little bit bonkers and almost certainly a musical magician, he makes music that is completely unlike anything else I listen to. His last record Wake Up Calls (read my review here) saw him making music from the birdsong of birds on the amber and red list in the UK - and for his latest project, he's taking us to the ocean soundscape. Oh yes.

New track Bathed In Sound is served up as the first taster of new EP Wild Wet World, which is due for release on 26th April via Tardigrade Records. The track features Cosmo alongside recordings of humpback whales, sperm whales, sounds of a bleached coral reef off Lizard Island, long horn sculpin, oyster toad fish and a buck-toothed parrot fish. You might ask what they're getting out of their work on the track - and here comes the BRILLIANT bit - through the lovely folk at EarthPercent, the Earth (yep, the ~actual~ Earth) is earning royalties from this project. So so COOL!!

Cosmo describes the track as "a song about trying to imagine myself as a whale floating in the ocean, immersed in a liquid medium full of sound, surrounded by plankton and the immense wild wetness of the ocean." There's a live video below... 

Cosmo describes the EP as "a homage to the ocean" - it's composed entirely of recordings of animals and the sonic worlds which they inhabit, some of which are marine biologist Steve Simpson's recordings. Brill science incoming: Simpson's research suggests that playing the sound of healthy coral reefs to dying reefs can help tempt back keystone species and restore health to these complex ecosystems. Ooft. 

Talking about the EP, which has been a labour of love over several years, Cosmo shares: "I have pieced it together slowly over a period of about ten years. It features the sounds of humpback whales singing, sperm whales clicking, Weddell seals courting, coral reefs spluttering, bucktoothed parrot fish crunching, an oyster toad fish grunting, pistol shrimp snapping, long horned sculpins honking, blue whales lamenting, and haddock drumming, and a rare recording of the voices of the UK's last remaining killer whale population who, along with their unique dialect are doomed to extinction as they are no longer fertile due to chemical contaminates in their waters." 

Follow Cosmo Sheldrake - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 30 March 2023

LISTEN: Dizzy - 'Open Up Wide'

Two Dizzy posts in a row? Yes indeed. The best news - they've just announced details of their third album, the self-titled Dizzy, which will be released via Communion Records on 18th August. The album news arrives alongside Open Up Wide - perhaps their most pop-tinged track to date, and I'm in love with them all over again.

In a beautiful act of synchronicity, the record arrives the day after their debut album Baby Teeth hits a milestone, turning five years old. The new tracks and new record give us a Dizzy who are far more confident in their art, but just as unique and endearing as the band I fell in love with all those years ago. Can not waaaait to hear more. But I'll have to.

I'll no doubt ramble lots more about the record over the coming months so for now, I'm going to focus on the new track... which Katie describes as "a tongue-in-cheek ode to a music industry we've never understood all that well." On the process of creating the new track, she explains "when we started recording the album, our producer David [Pramik] was super conscious of cutting the fat from each song. One afternoon he encouraged us to write our parts in a simpler, more 'spoonfed' fashion for easy listening, when Mack piped up cheekily 'Open up wide! Here comes the airplane!' The next morning we were all feeling a bit resentful of that mindset and 'Open Up Wide' came to be while we were having our morning coffees."

Dizzy are heading to the UK for a short run of shows in May - two London dates are already sold out, but it looks as if tickets are still available for Bristol and Brighton. Tickets here.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 23 March 2023

LISTEN: Dizzy - 'Birthmark' (Acoustic)

Ohhhh boy. There's a new track and some Dizzy news coming next week. Everybody stay calm. While I try to compose myself (this track is coming the same day as something new from Cosmo Sheldrake and I'm sure they've coordinated on purpose) this feels like as good an excuse as any to share this recent acoustic version of Birthmark. I have aaaall the love in the world for this band and I adore Katie's vocals on this track - it's a rare treat to hear their music stripped back like this and I love it!! Enjoy!

If you're digging this, here's the studio version - also, the band are hopping over to the UK to play a handful of shows in May. Both London dates are already sold out, I think, but they're also playing Brighton and Bristol - tickets here.

Follow Dizzy - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

EP NEWS: lilo - 'I Don't Like My Chances On The Outside'

Folk duo and lifelong pals lilo (London based Christie Gardner and Helen Dixon who met at school in Winchester aged 11) have announced a new EP - big yes!! I Don't Like My Chances On The Outside arrives via Dalliance on April 14th, and features recent singles Settled and Just A Thought, as well as brand new track I Don't Love You Anymore. Very much enjoying these tracks and this news! 

Speaking about the new track, the duo share: "I Don't Love You Anymore is about telling someone who loves you very much that you want to break up with them. It opens with the clocks changing over on New Year's Eve, as I realised that I knew how I felt, but didn't want to admit it, even to myself. The song moves through the horrible moment that you say the thing you never thought you would, and into the feeling of relief, as you get it out of your system and wriggle free from your secret. 

Despite the song being quite liberating in a way, it lingers on how you've made the other person feel, and the guilt that sticks to you long afterwards. When we all went through simultaneous break ups last Summer, we would take it in turns to cry to this song in rehearsals. It's a lilo right of passage." 

With a couple of festival performances coming up, lilo have just announced a headline show at London's St Pancras Old Church - tickets here

Follow lilo - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Friday 17 March 2023

LISTEN: néomí - 'i could never leave'

With her second EP on the way, néomí (AKA Surinamese/Dutch folk-pop singer-songwriter Neomi Speelman) recently shared new track i could never leave. As always, it's a stunner. Pure vocal magic with harmonies to die for. Following last year's debut EP before, new EP after is due on 14th April and from what I've heard so far, it'll be all sorts of gorgeous.

On the track, Neomi shares: "'I could never leave' is a track that lies very close to my heart. I think this song comes closest to my feelings than any other at this point. Every time I hear it or play it, it brings me back to this one love I had. I couldn't go, I couldn't move, I wanted to but also didn't want to. It's hard to describe but those who know this feeling know what I mean. It's about a relationship shifting, like a big force, like stars falling in the sky. Self-development, acceptance but also grief at the same time. 

I really enjoyed the process of creating this song as well, together with my friend Will. It was very natural and went so quickly because the story was just so clear and came flowing out of me. It didn't need much time or thinking. It felt raw and honest, and I hope it comes across that way because it's true."

néomí is currently on tour supporting SYML across Europe, and supports label mate Jonathan Jeremiah across the EU in April. 

Follow néomí - Facebook | TwitterInstagram.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

LISTEN: ARXX - 'God Knows'

Taking a quick detour away from the sad folk and into some queer pop goodness today. A little bit in love with God Knows from Brighton's alt-rockers ARXX. The track is taken from their debut album Ride or Die, which is coming out at the end of this month (31st). The track was produced by Steve Ansell and mastered by Katie Tavini and is described by the pair as "one of the most adventurous tracks on our record".  It's a bit of a departure for the duo, building on inspiration from some of their favourite pop artists - "we really pushed ourselves to step into Dua Lipa's shoes. We were able to live our Cher dreams and dive into the world of auto tune and swoopy synths."

I for one am really digging this one! Wrap your ears around it, won't you? 

Follow ARXX - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

ALBUM NEWS: Sivu - 'Wild Horse Running'

Just the best news! Sivu has an album coming - woooooooooo!! Having returned with single Wild Horse Running a few weeks back - his first new music since 2017 record Sweet Sweet Silent - James has just announced an album of the same name, due for release via Square Leg Records on 9th June. I will almost certainly spend the ensuing three months rambling about how brilliant this news is. The track gets a little break from my headphones, as the album news arrives alongside new single Apollo. Big love for that one!

On the new track, James shares: "it was the first song we did in the studio and so it felt like a blueprint for what the record was going to be. The word Apollo just rolled off the tongue when I was first writing this song. Diving deeper into the mythology of Apollo, being the god of poetry and music art, I pursued my relationship with creating and how I am in some ways a slave to it. Accepting that gave me a sense of freedom and a headspace to address my long-term and (at times) troubled relationship with it. No matter the lengths I have gone to at time to escape it, I get clawed back in (which I am incredibly thankful for). I will never stop writing music, I understand that now, but it is my Achilles heel." 

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

Follow Sivu - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Thursday 9 March 2023

WATCH: Amy May Ellis - 'Wild Geese'

Well, this is completely and utterly delightful! With her debut album Over Ling and Bell (12th May) on the way, Amy May Ellis has shared second single Wild Geese. The track is available via Lost Map Records as part of their PostMap Club postcard subscription (which sounds equally delightful) as well as digitally. This one brings together a couple of my loves - folk music and geese. I'm entirely the target market for this one and I am smitten.  

Amy describes that the track was "inspired by Mary Oliver's poem 'Wild Geese', and a man called William Lishman, and a flock of geese that flew over my house in Bristol. The day I saw the geese I had opened my window to try and hear them calling but they were too far away. Later, when my dad called from Yorkshire, he told me he had also seen a flock, though they had been so close he said he could have reached out and touched their wings. There is an ancient magic to the way geese retain and pass down their migratory routs. The arrow formation in which they fly adds to this magic a sense they are trying to guide us somehow."  

Amy was raised in the North York Moors, and the record is inspired by centuries of human habitation there, and was written in a secluded farmhouse in the Moors, mostly alone but sometimes with friends. Amy shares: "it's named after two types of heather that grow on the Moors. When I started writing for this album I went for walks with my uncle around the dale and unearthed a whole load of history which rooted itself in the songs. I'd always thought of the Moors as wild, but during that time I started to see how they had been tamed by everyone who had lived on them. From the miners, farmers and peat diggers to the Mesolithic hunters who settled on the hilltops.

The history of the Moors led me to think about the taming of the wild things and everything we have done as humans to gain a sense of control over our surroundings and our lives. I wondered what we have lost with this taming. A lot of the songs are about illness, an inevitable product of a world where rest is a privilege and crisis is a constant. During the making and recording of the album, I had periods of feeling very lost and paralysingly scared. I found solace in ideas around navigating rather than taming wildness, and became obsessed with maps. I read Nan Shepherd's 'The Living Mountain', Robert Macfarlane's 'The Old Ways' and dipped a toe into various philosophies. I still feel lost sometimes, but I've started finding things to orientate myself with." 

Over Ling and Bell is due for release on 12th May - pre-order here.

Amy May Ellis is touring the UK through May - tickets and info here.

Follow Amy May Ellis - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

LISTEN: Benedict Benjamin - 'White Noise'

You all loved Furlough Blues a few weeks back, right? Well you're in luck. Benedict Benjamin is back with the second single from his upcoming third record Tunnel (due June 9th) and it is a slice of psychedelic rock dreaminess. Seems that I can't stop describing my favourite new music as dreamy at the moment (because it is / I need a thesaurus). 

I'm really excited for this record (which I may have listened to already because... perks) - Ben has long been a favourite of mine and it's a joy to have some new music to share from him! Written and recorded at home during the pandemic, this record is a little different to the previous two, particularly in the processes behind it. Deprived of collaborators, Ben adopted different methods, sampling and editing drum solos from old jazz records to create rhythm tracks and then writing from there. The results are all rather lovely.

White Noise, Ben describes, is "about the frustration of thinking that maybe this or that moment would be the tipping point when the world might be headed in a more progressive direction but then all that energy somehow or another seems to get countered, things remain the same and I feel naive for letting myself hope. It was written in 2020, there were a lot of those moments that year."

Benedict Benjamin - Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

LISTEN: Christof van der Ven - 'I Can Only Get So Close'

Just when I needed a little bit of inspiration for some writing... the year continues to deliver the dreamiest of returns. This week, I'll mostly be listening to the new Half Moon Run and Christof van der Ven tracks back to back. Toooooooo good. 

Christof is back with his first original music since his 2019 record You Were The Place - new track I Can Only Get So Close is taken from the Haul EP, due 21st April. If you're unfamiliar with his solo music, you might know Christof as a member of the Bear's Den touring band, and this one is very much a BD fan's dream. With Ian Grimble on producing duties, and contributions from Kev Jones, Jools Owen and Tommy Heap, the track is a long-time-coming collaboration between Christof and BD frontman Andrew Davie.

The track's origins go back years, when the pair were living together in North London - Christof shares "one night, listening to music, I played the banjo part for Davie, which later became the song's intro. Soon he created an acoustic guitar part, but the song took time to fully form." Coming together during the pandemic, it's been a long process, but I'd say this one is definitely worth the wait!

Follow Christof van der Ven - Facebook | Instagram.