Unlike many blogs, I don’t feature many remixes but occasionally one comes along that really makes a difference to the original track; this version of Riverside by Agnes Obel is one of those. The original song is delightful & relaxing, with pitch perfect vocals from Danish singer/songwriter Agnes, but Lulu Rouge’s remix makes it incredibly atmospheric. The addition of a steady beat & extra layers of sound helps create an incredibly strong image to accompany Obel’s beautifully melodic voice; it’s also great to hear a remix which is truly an enhancement of the original material. Agnes Obel – Riverside (Lulu Rouge Remix) by Agnes Obel
Brisbane Producer duo YesYou have released their debut single Half Of It as a free download and, hopefully, it is the sun is still shining when you get chance to listen to it. It’s an upbeat & catchy slice of summer cleverly created using expert production values and fantastic guest vocals from The Boat People’s James O’Brien. The inclusion of a choral line also makes this piece sound all the more optimistic, and perfect for a long, hot sunny afternoon! Half Of It by YesYou
The UK is currently crying out for some promising young rockbands with universal appeal, The Scholars would seem to be exactly that. Another offering from Oxford’s burgeoning music scene, they specialise in creating the sort of anthems it’s often difficult for new bands to capture. New York Smile taken from their latest EP Arrival/Departure (tracks from which can be streamed from their Facebook page) is a perfect example of this, with it’s almost sinister sound & memorable infectious chorus. For some reason the most epic tracks always seem to contain a sense of melancholy that borders on menace and The Scholars have managed to weave this seamlessly into their music. What’s more, they’ve even got that familiar brooding look down to a T. With hints of the electro running throughout the EP, it’s reminiscent in parts of White Lies’ latest album, and a band that is unafraid to start out with such a powerful introduction, surely has a bright future ahead. This is a group who are not only creating a sound that is so desperately from new music at the moment, they are doing it in a way that should allow them to gather admirers beyond those who already appreciate the genre and that is, perhaps, the key ingredient that is missing from many of the new bands trying to break the current dominance of dance & Urban music. Turbulence by the_scholars
Leeds quintet To Kill A King have released the video for their debut single Fictional State, to provide a hard-hitting backdrop to a powerful, emotional song. Both video and song contain a grittiness that is uniquely British & has formed the foundation of careers for bands ranging from the Arctic Monkeys to Oasis, but here it is delivered so much more gently. It seems to have been born not out of aggression but of empathy, providing the whole track with a warmth that belies the raw emotions that run throughout. A stunning & bewitching debut.
In all honesty I’ve never been Carl Barat‘s biggest fan, based largely, and probably unfairly, on his association with Pete Doherty (I apologise to any fans but the man annoys me!). However, when I actually took the time to listen to This Is The Song (available as a free download) I was surprised to find myself enjoying it. Despite the anger that soars through the chorus as he sings ‘He’s gonna get his fuckin head kicked in’, there is startling tenderness running throughout with a gentle piano providing the backing to his agonizing vocals. Sometimes an artist comes along and proves that any preconceptions you have of them may be ill-judged, which is precisely what has happened to me with Carl Barat and, I have to admit, when the music is this good it’s a pleasure to be proved wrong! Carl Barât- This Is The Song by Anorak London This Is A Song is taken from Carl’s forthcoming EP due for release 2nd May.
Oklahoma five-piece Other Lives will release their second album Tamer Animals on August 29th, and the first single to be taken from it, For Lives is fantastically promising. Right from the start this is sweeping, cinematic music owed largely to their rousing use of strings. The vocals then kick in to create an air of tranquillity and give the song a haunting quality which has helped it find a fan in Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. An expressive & harmonious offering it indicates that Tamer Animals should be well worth the wait. Other Lives – For 12 by Stayloose
Cosmo Jarvis proved with Gay Pirates that he’s not afraid to tackle controversial subjects so it should come as no surprise that the video for his latest offering, Sure As Hell Not Jesus, is thought provoking to say the least. The song itself is wonderfully uptempo & can be easily taken as a very open, honest account of an intense relationship, but not necessarily of the sort portrayed in the video. His choice to tackle the subject of child abuse within the Catholic Church may be a step too far for some, but it is not done with any vulgarity or audacity. He seems to understand that raising a subject matter is enough to bring about debate without overexposing it and in doing so Cosmo has cleverly created something which at times seems to jar against the lyrics of the song while fitting them perfectly at others. As I eluded to when I wrote about Gay Pirates, he is, without doubt, one of the most promising talents in this country for both his seemingly natural self-taught musical ability that allows him to write incredibly catchy pop songs, and his unerring dedication to ensuring that important yet controversial issues are brought forward to a public forum. This is a man whose creativity seems to know no bounds & who, thankfully, is unafraid to share it.
Snakes In The Grass by Glaswegian trio Sparrow And The Workshop is impressive. It’s not often that you hear epic vocals of this calibre deployed by a female voice; the deeper, sweeping tones are often reserved for gritty male driven songs. Jill O’Sullivan sings with passion and a confidence that make the track at once ethereal and intoxicating. As the vocals blend seamlessly with a guitar driven soundtrack you get a sense that this is a band fully intent on ensuring they have your full attention when you listen to their music, which, despite the almost delicate guitar rhythms, demands to be turned up loud.
Occasionally something arrives in my inbox that’s a little bit more than just new music, which is precisely the case with this offering from Benji Boko Feat. Maxi Jazz. For anyone still mourning the loss of Faithless, this should provide the perfect remedy, thanks to Jazz’s instantly identifiable and unique vocals that have helped define over a decade of dance music, but it is also an invitation, a call to arms for artists everywhere to leave their mark on the song. To reflect the collaborative nature of the track Benji is looking for talented artists/graffiti artists/illustrators/animators to collaborate in the making of the video. Benji is seeking a handful of talented people to submit designs and animations – inspired by the track – to occupy the white background space around Maxi Jazz that can be seen in the video below. The winning artist will be invited to London/Brighton in June where the Phase 1 footage will be slowed down to stretch over a period of five hours and projected onto a large outdoor screen/canvas while the artists recreate their designs on the canvas. This footage will then be sped up to 3 minutes – so that the original Phase 1 footage of Maxi Jazz will be moving at normal speed, whilst the artists create the backdrop at superhuman speed around him.
The aim is to make this a truly collaborative effort, reflecting not only the joint venture of a legend and a rising star, but also what can be produced by combining a variety of artistic disciplines. It’s an opportunity to be part of a track with amazing potential to become a soundtrack to the summer due to the wonderful sounds created by Boko, proof that when utilised properly computers can create music just as enchanting as that which is traditionally produced. To be part of the project send all designs or questions to email@example.com before 23rd May.
Charlie Simpson has made a name for himself as a band member, firstly of Busted (just don’t mention that!) & secondly of Fightstar; now, he’s going it alone. This is someone who, in the past, has made a point of the fact that he wants to be making real music, the sort he feels passionate about, putting great onus on himself to ensure that what he produces is incredibly high quality. When he joined Fightstar he alienated a lot of people with his choice to pursue a heavier sound but with his solo work he has taken a step in the opposite direction, and it seems to be a good decision.
His debut video as a solo artist has been released today for Down Down Down taken from his free EP (available here) bringing with it a whole new sound for this once pop-centric artist. Full of acoustic guitars, perfect harmonies and sharp lyrics, this is folksy in feeling, and suits the deep tones of his voice fantastically. Anyone who has heard his version of Don McLean’s Vincent will know that he has the ability to make music mesmerising, so it is a pleasure to see him transfer that trait to his own creations. This track evidences the versatility of a man who clearly lives and breathes music, as he creates a sound that is incredibly current and universally appealing. Listening to his track Thorns, also available on the free EP, provides further affirmation that this is a style of music incredibly suited to him; it’s tender & absorbing in a way that will surprise so many who have come to view him purely as a rock artist. On the basis of Down Down Down and, in fact, the whole EP, going solo is an incredibly astute decision which hopefully should win him not only a whole new legion of fans, but also the credibility he deserves as a a musician but is all too often denied. I await the album with anticipation.