I do love it when music goes through stages when there’s a wealth of talented strong-voiced women; luckily we seem to be encountering one of those right now. Lana Del Rey is already attracting huge amounts of love for her old school vocals and if you’re a fan of hers but haven’t yet heard Kyla La Grange then she’s someone you should be paying attention to! Her latest single Heavy Stone is a prime example of why, with her sultry, smoky vocals coupled with image-laden lyrics (‘I wanna see myself painted an invisible grey’), she is also starting to gain herself a pleasing number of followers. Even the video to this song is stunning, shot in black & white it allows for white/silver tears to be seen running down Grange’s face in what is possibly one of the most striking images I’ve seen in a music video.
I’ve found Florence Welch with an American twang. It’s true I’ve found a new Flo, residing in New York city. I would like to overwhelm you with information on MS MR but unfortunately little in known about this coupling. Possibly because they are still fairly young fry in this ocean we call the music industry. Or, the business-savvy side of me screams “PR stunt”.
Either way they’ve proven that a need for visual identity stems from the wealth of the greedy and it’s not altogether necessary when you have vocals as delightfully delicious as the Ms in this partnership. In the grandiose Ash Tree Lane we are struck almost instantly by female, yet not overly feminine vocal. Like a witches cauldron, there is something persistently bubbling under the surface. The drop comes with frantic piano keys built up with incredible intensity, this teamed with the elongated ooing gives us something almost cinematic.
Of course the video more than emphasises this. We are greeted with old cinema reels, Alice wondering into that mysterious land, an unknown which is indicative of the American Dream, highlighted through other film clips. A video with poignancy. An artist trying to do much more than talk about bringing swagger back. For this reason alone I’m in.
I’m not completely sure Sunday night is the best time of the week for upbeat indie music but seeing as it counts as the end of my working week, tough! Nothern Ireland’s General Fiasco have put out the title track from their upcoming EP Waves and anyone who has heard them before (or listens to Radio 1) will be unsurprised to discover that it is fantastically infectious. It’s a stylish indie track with flecks of the electronic enabling it to stand out from the wealth of electro-driven pop around at the moment (which I enjoy but can’t deny is beginning to become THE sound everyone strives for). The song will be available on the EP released November 14th. General Fiasco – Waves by Dirty Hit
Today was a good day, I completed that crossword that had been bugging me for months, helped a little old lady cross the road, rescued a cat from a tree. Oh and I may have stumbled across the UK’s answer to Chromeo, or so I thought…
L-Vis 1990, aka James Connolly is a UK-based DJ and producer, one man creating dance music influenced by vintage East Coast American house. Using old school synths and drum machines that would have been used in the early years of house music. Due to release his fully nostalgic-fuelled debut album I was instantly attracted to single Lost In Love which features the gravy smooth vocals from Javeon McCarthy. A hugely repetitive-ripe but repetitively-right track. It gives you the vigour to put two figures up to the world on a Friday night and just dance, repetitively of course.
Chromeo to me are untouchable but L-Vis is within stretched finger distance, very similar hooks and tight twinkly bits – I’m not going to pretend I know the technical vocabulary. L-Vis has picked up a lot of influential followers such as Diplo and Erol Alkan. Lost in Love features on unreleased album Neon Dreams which tries to encompass an array of trends, styles and tempos of making house music less restricted to four walls. Today has been a tip top day.
Oxford trio Trophy Wife (quartet when playing live) have unveiled the video for the lead track from their new EP, Bruxism. Admittedly, the video for Canopy Shade is a tad strange, but the song itself is certainly worth a listen. It’s another of those synth-pop tracks that I seem incredibly enamoured by at the moment and, I’m pretty sure, is the precise sound you’d get if you mixed Two Door Cinema Club with the tropical feel of Friendly Fires. If you’re as drawn to this type of music as I am, you will find it impossible to not love this song.
A couple of weeks ago I posted about Waylayers and their unique pledge to post a new song on Facebook every week, with the intention of keeping you up to date with the videos they were releasing. As is usually the case, everything else has managed to get in the way of that so it seems only right that I inform you that their debut single Hear No Lies is released this week. The track is just as much of a catchy synth-pop offering as Silver Feeling but with a slightly darker undertone, both in the vocals themselves and the central line ‘Ask no questions, hear no lies’. Fans of Two Door Cinema will, undoubtedly appreciate it and understand why the band have been receiving such high praise recently.
Cosmo Jarvis is certainly an interesting artist. He’s not one to allow himself to be pigeonholed into a particular genre and this is extremely evident on his second album Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?. In fact the only thing that you can say for definite about him through this, is just how socially conscious he is; a fact which is unsurprising to anyone who’s heard him before.
When then listening to the album, then, it is important to understand that this is an artist not bound by specific musical genres as most are, but instead the unifying factor of his songs is the overwhelming sense of engaging with the world around him. Take current single My Day, for example, a raucous rock song that speaks almost nostalgically of the trappings of modern day life, everything from paying ‘silly cash to go to festivals’ to people ‘spitting in the streets’; all protested with an anger that ensures a certain resonance as you realise that in 20-30 years he envisages this as how he’ll remember the early 21st century.
Admittedly, not all songs are quite so forceful in their outspoken nature, with tracks such as Blame It On Me and title track Is The World Strange? taking a much more introspective approach to the world around him. The latter, however, moves between a questioning of himself and the recognition that this self-doubt has been brought about by putting on a pretence to encourage others to like him and, ironically, how they were happy to accept it; a situation that many are likely to find painfully familiar.
Considering this album is so focused on “bigger issues” it’s probably reasonable to expect to find yourself feeling preached at. Jarvis, though, has managed to avoid that pitfall by ensuring that there is an underlying playfulness to his songs. Whether it’s by transferring a serious subject to a setting with overwhelming theatrical connotations as he does in Gay Pirates or lyrically, for example in The Talking Song when he says, tongue-in-cheek, how a ‘lady with a pram…might go crazy’ if he offers to help her because she might take offence at the insinuation she’s weak; resulting in a cheeky derision of the ridiculous paranoia initiated by political correctness.
On a purely musical level be prepared to be surprised. When he sets out to use his voice to its full potential, as on Let Me Out Of My Head there is an amazingly warm tone to it which, admittedly, is sometimes hidden behind the subject matter of the songs themselves but is immensely easy to listen to when given the chance to shine. As mentioned earlier, you also find that between the songs there are various genre explorations. I have seen this album classified as Folk, which is understandable when you consider his use of the acoustic but which belies the country-infused Blame It On Me or The Talking Song which, with its rapping, has an almost urban sound to it (and for some reason also makes me think of Rolf Harris’ The Court Of King Caractacus!). It is, effectively, a multi-facted album.
This album comes hot on the heels of the debut release from Ed Sheeran which, while that was always destined to garner more success, also received mixed reviews from those disappointed it wasn’t as socially-centred as they wanted it to be. You have to wonder whether this is the album they wanted him to make instead. With this second release Cosmo Jarvis has ensured that while his outspokenness may not result in the type of unbridled attention other artists relish, he will, for now, be recognised as a musician capable of and willing to speak with an honesty that most others would shy away from.
My Day is currently available to download. Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange? is released Monday 26th September.
Way back in February I wrote an Introducing piece on London quartet Kites after being impressed by their fantastically addictive synth-pop 80s sound. It’s with great pleasure, then, that an email arrived in my inbox today pronouncing their first official single Brother will be released 24th October. Unfortunately,as yet, I can’t share that particular song with you but I can give you a taster of what to expect with the B Side Art Tastes Better Blind. If you’ve heard any of their music already you will be unsurprised to learn that this song is crisp, polished and intelligently written with a depth that can only be fully appreciated by allowing it your complete attention. It’s further evidence of why there is such a buzz around this band at the moment and why they are undoubtedly ones to watch.
Double Denim are a label that are well worth paying attention to. You may not have heard very much about them at the moment but judging by the music they are responsible for I suspect you will have done soon. Last month I presented you with one of their releases Outfit and now I have another in the form of Never Leave from Zulu Winter. The London quintet will release the track as a double A side along with Let’s Move Back To Front on November 7th and, like their label mates’ debut offering, is a reminder of how often a new band can take you by surprise with the quality of their introductory offering. This is electro-pop at its best with a catchy chorus and atmospheric backing track that fans of Friendly Fires will find themselves drawn to. Based on this evidence I can’t wait to here more from this label in the future.
As a fan of rock music in general it was inevitable that I was going to find myself enjoying Black Keys by Dublin trio The Minutes the moment I pressed play. The song, which will be their next single released on October 31st, is a genuine piece of rock ‘n’ roll largely due to Mark Austin’s bluesy vocals. It’s got that almost Quo style guitar sound that makes it irresistible to dance to (or perhaps more specifically subconsciously tap your foot to) and is universally catchy in a way that very few rock bands seem to manage at the moment.
You can catch The Minutes on tour, dates below.
31st Oct – Bull & Gate, London *Single release show* 2nd Nov – Water Rats, London 3rd Nov – Pyramid centre, Portsmouth *w/ Flogging Molly* 4th Nov – Forum, London *w/ Flogging Molly* 5th Nov – Academy 2, Manchester *w/ Flogging Molly* 6th Nov – UEA, Norwich *w/ Flogging Molly* 28th Nov – Rockcity, Nottingham *w/ Flogging Molly* 29th Nov – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton *w/ Flogging Molly* 30th Nov – Coal Exchange, Cardiff *w/Flogging Molly*