Thursday, 31 October 2013

LISTEN: Cut Ribbons - Bound In Love

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (29/10/13)

Cut Ribbons' lead single from their upcoming EP doesn’t mark a dramatic change in sound, nor does it need to. “Bound In Love” is a sprightly pop-rock nugget, even more assured than the Welsh troupe’s previous offerings.

Muted guitars worm their way around buoyant drums and charming harmonies, giving us a sweet sneak-peek into Bound In Love EP. There couldn’t be better vocal pairing between singers Aled Rees and Anna Griffiths, with Griffiths’ soprano dancing nicely atop Rees’ docile vocal.

Clean-cut hand snaps, lively rhythms and breezy guitar hooks scream of the 1975's creative, sugar-rush pop music. It’s catchy, fun and confident – surely ready to home itself on radio playlists.

Bound In Love EP drops 18 November on Kissability. The new single is out on 8 December.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

LISTEN: Hella Better Dancer - Sleeptalking

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (28/10/13)

Brighton/London four piece Hella Better Dancer have been making dreamy, lo-fi guitar pop in their bedrooms for a few years. 'Sleeptalking' sounds like a band ready to flock the nest.

Perhaps it’s the prickly guitar solo and half-shouted harmonies that’s allowed the band to take on a more immediate personality? Or the weighty reverb and shaded vocals? Maybe it’s the band’s adoption of Norwegian songstress Farao last year as drummer? There’s certainly a cathartic experience when listening to both Hella Better Dancer and Farao’s music, made all the more appropriate by them playing church gigs together.

Whatever the reason, 'Sleeptalking' is a sure-fire step in the right direction. It doesn’t shed the band’s hallmark spacious sound (check out 2012′s Living Room EP) nor is it a simple repetition of their previous efforts. We can’t wait to hear more.

The self-produced/recorded single is out available as a free download here. Beautiful Strange will release 'Sleeptalking' on limited 7″ vinyl on 11 November.

FEATURE: Tracks of the Week - 25/10/13

*Originally published for The Line Of Best Fit (25/10/13)

We revisit the sounds that have been whirring around our heads the last seven days. Consider your weekend playlist sorted with our selection of the best new tunes around.

Stockholm’s Erik Hassle has been quiet these past few months, so he needed to bring us something special on his return. 'Talk About It' is his boldest effort to date: synths sweep, cymbals crash and Hassle’s soulful vocals blast out a hooky chorus. A smooth, electro pop nugget.

Shirking any attempt at slick production was Australian producer D.D Dumbo with his rough ‘n’ ready, 'Tropical Oceans'. Unhinged lyrics go hand in hand with unhinged sounds: deep south riffs skip intermittently between tribal percussion and shrill harmonies. A collaboration with Grizzly Bear would work far too well.

London girl Rainy Milo showed-off her slow jams with new track, 'Rats'. A fresh take on RnB, Miss Milo mixes crisp electronics with colloquial vocals and reggae echoes. It’s quietly confident and instantly catchy, nodding to the bright pop components of AlunaGeorge.

Genre-defying, gravity-defying, just-about-anything defying, are Febueder. ‘Alligator’ is so damn exciting it hurts. Four and a half minutes are crammed with different songs – or so the unpredictable structures make you believe. Mischievous guitars, barmy vocals and rattlesnake rhythms creep and crawl. The band’s green and pleasant land of Ascot couldn’t sound further away.

Lastly, wrapping us in its warm textures was the new tune by vocalist Nicole Millar. The Australian is very much in demand at the moment, collaborating with Cosmo’s Midnight, Emoh Instead and now Nottingham’s Crvvcks. Downbeat rhythms and crackling synths make for an ambient, post-dubstep dream.

Listen to our selection of the week’s best tracks below:

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

LISTEN: Nicole Millar - Fall

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (22/10/13)

We heard Nicole Millar in April when she sang on a track by Aussie duo Cosmo’s Midnight. Now she’s hopped overseas to have Nottingham’s Crvvcks shroud her china vocals in bass and beats.

Aching synths and downbeat rhythms drag their feet on 'Fall', with Millar’s breathless vocal turning it into a post-dubby dream. A friend pointed out that she sounds like Bjork and it’s a good comparison. Lyrics spin and hand-claps crackle over slow tempos: a suitable track for working in the after-hours.

Her unnamed EP drops this month but there are no details on the exact release date. Check out her Facebook page for more information.

REVIEW: Rhodes - Raise Your Love EP

*Originally published for The 405 (22/10/13)

Childhood curiosity, openness and immunity to fear is a perfect mix for trying new things: from learning to ride a bike, to picking up a new language. All this becomes more challenging as you grow up and many would discard trying to master a new skill. But not 24-year-old David Rhodes. In January this year, he picked up a guitar, discovered he had a voice and set about to write some music. And the results are quite startling.

It's rare that a song can move you as quickly as 'Run' does. Guitars trickle like waterfalls over Rhodes' devastatingly beautiful vocals, whilst a gospel chorus lifts the track to a higher state. It would certainly suit a indie film soundtrack with its steadied and commanding crescendos.

'Worry' feels like an old friend with its instantly catchy chorus. Rhodes knows a way into a girl's heart with guttural, soulful vocals, nicely tied up at the end with aquatic guitars harking to Parachutes-era Coldplay.

The weakest song on the EP (though by no means "weak") is 'Darker Side'. It never quite takes off, but has the same earworm-of-a-chorus as 'Worry.' The thread attaching all of the songs is undoubtedly raw simplicity via Rhodes' pairing of ringing guitar and vocals (of the Jeff Buckley ilk) and, though this can be samey at times, it's powerful in its consistency.

Closer 'Raise Your Love' allows Rhodes' songwriting to really crawl into your head. The deep-seated projection of his voice in the verses is astounding as gentle percussion kisses a clanging electric guitar. Harmonies soar and echoes resound, leaving the record perched firmly on a high.

Raise Your Love is an arresting introduction to this impossibly-talented songwriter. It's the type of record that stops you in your tracks and swallows you whole, and it's frightening to think what heights can be reached next.


LISTEN: Roosevelt - Montreal

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (22/10/13)

The Cologne master of sunny house, Roosevelt, presents the b-side to 'Elliot', taken from his debut EP released this summer.

Whilst 'Montreal' hasn’t quite got the vibrancy of previous singles 'Sun' and 'Elliot', basslines are strapped to funky house and Marius Lauber’s misty vocals carry well over wriggling synths. There’s a sleepy and content feel about it, befitting a post-club beach session on some faraway Balearic island.

Elliot is out now on Greco-Roman. Roosevelt plays a DJ set at Fabric, London on 8 November.

Friday, 18 October 2013

FEATURE: Tracks of the Week - 18/10/13

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (18/10/13)

Another week, another attack of exciting new music. Here’s our selection of the best tunes from the last seven days.

Elusive London duo Jungle unveiled their new track, 'Lucky I Got What I Want' and got everyone’s ears pricked up. Smooth urban grooves and richly layered vocals make for another faultless song from the nameless pair, readying us for the release of The Heat EP on Monday.

Building on the urban jungle was the latest offering from SZA, the first female signed to TDE (Kendrick Lamar/Black Hippy’s label).'Teen Spirit' trapped us in its web of dreamy RnB with the New Jersey artist threading her sultry vocals between deep beats and crisp-clean production.

There have been some startling remixes of Lana Del Rey's work over the past few years (personal favourite: Jamie Woon's, 'Blue Jeans') and Mokadem has done a fine job on 'Gods & Monsters'. Glassy synths drop on downbeat rhythms as the South London producer plays sensitively with Del Rey’s vocal. It’s all pretty doom and gloom, but completely encapsulating.

Sensuality runs throughout the lead track from Rainer's upcoming EP, due for release in November. Lyrics detail the tugging and pulling of a relationship as beats pop and synths throb to off-kilter harmonies. The song’s unpredictable nature keeps you pressing refresh until you’re satisfied you’ve got your head around it – all part of its devilish allure.

Finally, Oli Bayston of Boxed In couldn’t have impressed us more on his catchy debut single, 'All Your Love Is Gone'. Driving, Krautrock rhythms, gritty guitar solos and deliciously languid vocals seem to loop on forever and ever. Quite frankly, we don’t want it to stop.

Listen to our selection of the week’s best tracks below:

WATCH: East India Youth - Looking For Someone

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (17/10/13)

Bloggers went crazy for East India Youth’s sound experiment 'Heaven, How Long' earlier this year. Now William Doyle presents his first official video for 'Looking For Someone', taken from April’s Hostel EP.
The dizzying, schoolboy harmonies that open the track go hand in hand with video vertigo; Mr Doyle is seen floating up London’s Heron Tower with skewed camera angles and barf-inducing twists. The heavy layering of electronic sound, here reminiscent of Animal Collective, and ecclesial organ nicely compliments the slow-burning journey up to the heavens.
East India Youth will release his debut album on Stolen Recordings in early 2014.

LISTEN: Magic Island - Baby Blu

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (16/10/13)

Experimental Berlin-based popstress Magic Island dishes out a new track just two months after the release of her debut EP, Intoxicated Sunset.

'Baby Blu' sounds like stripped-back Lana Del Rey, with Canadian Emma Czerny’s clipped vocals exerting complete control over honky-tonk keys and hip-hop rhythms. Sickly lyrics about romance and glistening percussion slip in and out whilst harmonies fall on top of each other. The closing oohs and aahs hark to the 90s RnB that fellow Canadian Grimes continually vows to make.

'Baby Blu' is taken from Magic Island’s upcoming EP, Wasted Dawn.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

LISTEN: Boxed In - All Your Love Is Gone

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (15/10/13)

It’s a promising start for London soloist Boxed In with his flourishing debut single ‘All Your Love is Gone’, and a far cry from helping out on Lily Allen songs.

Credited for work on records by Allen and TOY, Oli Bayston is now taking the solo spotlight with a thriving, pulsating debut single in ‘All Your Love is Gone’. Crisp piano and meaty bass meander around a tight motorik rhythm as Bayston curls his lip with drawled vocals. Repetitive melodies and sharp beats deftly build the song to a gratifying climax, with the combined textures sounding not a world away from ‘No.1 Against The Rush’ by Liars. It’s exciting stuff.

‘All Your Love is Gone’ is released on limited edition 7″ vinyl and download on 25 November via Moshi Moshi Singles Club. Boxed In headlines The Waiting Room, London on 2 December.

LISTEN: YUNO - Grapefruit

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (14/10/13)

With the nights drawing in, the balmy new track by Florida bedroom musician YUNO couldn’t sound more out of place. It’s just what we need, though.

Put the heavy clouds and wet clothes aside and let ‘Grapefruit’ be your new hot water bottle; its warm RnB rhythms and breezy vocals are an immediate comfort. Synths chirp happily to one another as tropical drums weave in between the main hook.

Although its quite different to YUNO’s earlier surf-pop (remember summer anthem, ‘Sunlight‘?), ‘Grapefruit’ sounds very sure of itself, giving us curious insight into us into his forthcoming, Kickstarter-backed debut LP, V.

Monday, 14 October 2013

LISTEN: Boardwalk - Crying

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (10/10/13)

LA pairing Boardwalk lie somewhere between Big Deal and Beach House with their lo-fi guitars and hazy vocals - due to get teenage knickers in a twist as their debut LP release approaches.

The reason for this? Boardwalk – formed just last summer – know how to sex up dream-pop. On ‘Crying’, Amber Quintero’s lethargic, come-back-to-bed vocals effortlessly climb over Mike Edge’s muted garage-rock guitars. Slow tempos and floaty guitar solos are the ideal soundtrack to a Sunday morning spent with a sore head, with simple rhymes ensuring you’ll be pressing the repeat button.

Boardwalk’s self-titled debut album is out on 15 October via Stone Throw Records.

LISTEN: Killing Fields of Ontario - Our Place To Drown

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (9/10/13)

Leeds via Birmingham via London five-piece Killing Fields of Ontario might be a little displaced geographically, but their uplifting folk-rock remains rooted in its soil.

They’ve been simmering quietly in the background for a few years with regular slots on Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing show, but new track ‘Our Place To Drown’ sounds like a band vying for more. Train rhythms and playful bass confidently carry billowing guitars over Tom Brewster’s pseudo-Southern drawl. It’s gentle but purposeful, the soundtrack for an endless journey.

Partner it up with the intense folk-country of lead single, ‘Cloud’ – taken from their forthcoming album, How The World Ends - and the rest of it looks rather promising.

How The World Ends is out on 28 October via KFoO Records.

LISTEN: Solomon Grey - Firechild

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (9/10/13)

Electronica duo Solomon Grey are re-releasing their unbearably catchy single ‘Firechild’ ahead of their debut live performances next month.

Judging by the sound of their 80s krautrock-meets-modern pop, the twosome will be throwing quite a party at their first live shows. ‘Firechild’ hears juddering, spacey synths provide a comfortable bed for smug falsettos and spanking-clean string progressions. It’s danceable, likeable pop that sounds damn sure of itself. 

Catch the English-Australian duo at The White Building, Hackney on 20 and 21 November.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

LISTEN: Woman's Hour - Darkest Place [Oceaán remix]

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (7/10/13)

Oceaán caught our attention earlier this year with the smooth and silky ‘Need U’. Now the Manchester producer delivers a delicate remix of ‘Darkest Place’ by electronic minimalists, Woman’s Hour.

There is a real sense of partnership in Oceaán’s reworking of ‘Darkest Place’; Fiona Burgess’ naked vocals swim fluidly between “Oliver Cean”'s soulful hums. Finger snaps build to scurrying rhythms and harmonies glint in the background.

What is so attractive about the remix is that the original is instantly recognisable –  just kissed with a new warmth – likely found basking in clubbers’ afterglow or accompanying late-night drives.

Monday, 7 October 2013

LISTEN: Blood Cultures - Indian Summer

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (7/10/13)

It's tempting to give artists the silent treatment when internet bios are intentionally sparse, but in the case of elusive New Jersey soloist, Blood Cultures, it'd be plain rude. 

Put simply, the debut offering from the synth-pop artist is too good to miss. Opening with groovy, palm-muted guitars akin to what we've heard so far from Jai Paul, 'Indian Summer' quickly journeys into explosive synth-pop territory.

Off-kilter, vacuous vocals climb pentatonic scales on top of brash – if not a little cheesy – synths that nod to Europop. It sounds more like it's been washed up on the shores of Sweden than New Jersey, no more than a pebble stone's throw away from Iamamiwhoami.

Friday, 4 October 2013

LISTEN: Fractures - Cadence

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (4/10/13)

Australian producer/multi-instrumentalist Fractures returns with drugged RnB months after nursing, ironically, a fractured neck.

The solitude caused by such an incident can be a blessing for creativity, mind. New single 'Cadence' perfectly embodies the frustrations of unrequited love: cyclical motions, yearning vocals and a bass that's far too hot to touch. The opening keys draw parallels to 70s funk clavinet, but the track is soon engulfed by downtempo not unlike that of electro-soul crooner, Jamie Woon.

While it could be a bit brighter on the production side, it gives us a nice peek into his debut EP set for release in early 2014.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

LISTEN: Lupa - The Creature

*Originally published for The Line of Best Fit (3/10/13).

Fifteen-year-old Lupa knows a thing or two about fusing organic sounds with tender electronica.

The Sydney-based artist (real name Imogen Jones) cites Daughter and Grimes amongst her influences and that folk-meets- electronic sound is prevalent in new song, 'The Creature'. Crystalline vocals and plucked violins drip-feed into snapped beats, reaching an enchanting climax just shy of the four minute mark. What lies at the heart of the track is its clever simplicity - descending scales looping with repetitive beats - thanks in part to Miss Jones' classical music background. Trained musicians will be the first to tell you less is more.
Aussies triple j love her, and we might just a bit too.