A Tribe Called Quest once asked “Can I kick it?” and the answer was a resounding yes. This next band is all about kicking it, from their name, to their ethereally energetic sound. But don’t get confused, they’re about as hip hop as a pair of clogs.
The Arcadian Kicks are a young band from the outskirts of Birmingham, who are co-managed by none other than Jon Brookes of The Charlatans – not a bad fan to have. The mixed five-some introduce an array of sounds, influences and hit on bands such as Fleetwood Mac, The Kills and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I know, a total mix – which shows that the kids that met and formed at school definitely did their homework. From Over & Over which is a softer more mellow track to their new single You Play The Girl which is fiery, fierce and down right ferocious. The Blondie-esque tune is no doubt a dance floor filler, with it’s guitar ladened, with a vixen vocal. It’s a total Indie love fest.
You Play The Girl is vivacious, demanding and slightly seedy. Which is available as a free download on the band’s Facebook. That’s the kind of behaviour that you would normally need to pay to see. Latest tracks by The Arcadian Kicks
I Must Be A Lover, due for release July 3rd, is the latest single to be taken from Guillemots‘ critically acclaimed third album Walk The River. It’s beautifully relaxed pushing Fyfe Dangerfield’s gorgeous vocals to the fore with a fantastically heady video to accompany it. In fact there’s something about the lights/nature combination in the video that makes me reminisce about times at Glastonbury Festival and as a whole I Must Be A Lover is further proof of why so many have found themselves falling in love with the band in the past few years.
Pick up a copy of this week’s NME magazine and you would be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the bombardment of New Music presented to you in its annual Radar issue. Some people, such as myself, will take it upon themselves to search for and listen to the majority of the acts presented in the hope of discovering something special. Many, however, will simply read without the time or patience to work through the artists, so I have picked out a personal favourite I think is worthy of three minutes of your time and not previously featured on here. The band is Tribes. For me personally, it is great to see that all the lists of artists to watch in 2011 suggest a resurgance in the British Guitar band, and Tribes are a fantastic example of why.
Their song for their debut video Whenever is a catchy piece of pop-rock with an American twang. Yet this is a band born and bred in London, producing the sort of powerful guitar led music currently associated with the US. The UK has a proud and rich history of fantastic quality rock bands with the ability to appeal to a mass of people regardless of their usual musical persuasion and, hopefully, Tribes are a band that also possess that. What makes their music so appealing is the sincerity with which lead vocalist Johnny Lloyd sings his lyrics. It causes the upbeat, memorable hook of the chorus to be twinged with sadness in a way that only a British voice can. This becomes even more poignant on their demo track Nightdriving (available HERE as a free download), a fitting tribute to Charles Haddon, leadsinger of Out Est Le Swimming Pool, who tragically took his own life in August last year. The lyrics and stripped back nature of the song show the versatility and talent of the band perfectly, and hopefully will prove to be vital as they push for success amongst a new wave of phenomonal British guitar bands.
I know this means two Introducing posts in a row, but honestly Daughter aka Elena Tonra, is worth it. Despite the fact that she has only just released a demo it is easy to see her talent shine through and, having just announced that she will be part of HMV’s Next Big Thing festival next year, hopefully everything bodes well for 2011 bringing success to this incredibly talented young lady. The song below Peter, is a stunning introduction to a beautiful voice that will leave you lost for words. It is achingly and tragically enchanting, which is a perfect way of describing the rest of the four-song demo she has produced (available HERE) Your Kisses tells a tale of lost love, while Run is more uptempo singing of running from danger, fleeing with a loved one. In each and every song she has produced a captivating story that it is impossible to not feel drawn into thanks to the way her delicate voice makes every word and emotion feel utterly sincere. What she has managed to exemplify is just how phenomonal music can sound when stripped back to the bare bones of an acoustic guitar and a voice. This undercurrent of music relying on simplicity to be hard-hitting is a running theme at the moment both within music as a whole, and this blog in all honesty! However, Daughter makes it look easy with such charm that she has the ability to stand above other artists within her genre.
So sit back and enjoy, I promise it is a worthwhile experience for the beauty of Daughter’s music.
Don’t forget you can download the demo, or find her on Facebook to provide some well deserved support.
This year, like many other people, I have been converted to the wonderful world of folk music. Acts such as Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling have taken this genre to the mainstream and proved it to be both an accessible and enjoyable form of music. Perhaps, with the door having been opened, this is why I have found myself so entranced by Australian folk newcomers Boy & Bear. If you want proof of their credentials, then you need look no further than the previously mentioned, #1 on NME’s cool list 2010, Laura Marling, with whom the band toured the UK this year.
Boy & Bear carry all the important elements needed to make their music folk, retaining the organic sound that has allowed the style to appeal to so many over the past 18 months. However, there seems to be slightly more of a nod to the commercial. While there are the obvious comparisons to be made to Mumford & Sons when analysing the sound of the band, the naming, on their part, of Arcade Fire as an influence is more interesting and telling to consider. Yes, this is obviously folk music, but the subtle anthemic nature of Mexican Mavis hints at ambitions to transcend a bridge between the two artists. The stand out instrument of the song? The banjo! Once a comedic tool, here it is captivating helping to exemplify how far folk music has come this year and hopefully this can only bode well for Boy & Bear whose earthy lyrics and professional sound should ensure they have the ability to sustain a wide appeal to the British Public who have welcomed the unadulterated nature of folk with open arms. The other beauty of the song is the way it builds, constantly growing and intensifying, before ending on the quiet, infectious and haunting tones of lead vocalist Dave Hosking.
So immerse yourself in their world, close your eyes and allow yourself to enjoy every morsel that this band has to offer.
Today the BBC released it’s long list for the Sound Of 2011, its annual poll of leading taste makers who pinpoint which artists they believe will hit the bigtime during the next 12 months. Already, I have voiced my support for The Vaccines and James Blake, but today, following the publication of the list, I present to you one of the artists on the list that is new to me.
Daley is a singer-songwriter from Manchester with a voice so soulful it could melt the hardest of hearts. His music has echoes of classic Motown, a sound so rarely found in mainstream music at the moment, and the beauty of it is evident in my personal favourite from his BBC Introducing set, Rainy Days. The set exemplifies how seamlessly every aspect of his music blends together. The fact that there is no overriding instrumental sound, other than the vocals, arguably makes this music in its purest form. It is the total control over his voice, that allows Daley to create such enticing music, to paint a mental image for his audience of the rain beating down as he pines for a lost love. There is no over-complication of the premise, or the sound. It is melancholic while smooth, beautiful while painful, and a perfect introduction to someone who will hopefully go on to have a 2011 worthy of such an outstanding talent. Daley’s inclusion in the Sound of 2011 longlist is a step towards this and I hope that when the final results are published in January, he makes it into the top 5, because a voice of this calibre deserves to be heard.
Today’s song is without a doubt unique! It comes from Cosmo Jarvis, an incredibly talented Filmmaker and Musician hailing from Devon. Cosmo self-teaches himself how to play the instruments required for each song he writes, and does it all himself, an amazing feat considering the quality of work he is producing. The song I am presenting to you is Gay Pirates, a song that despite his previous rejections from Radio, is now enjoying airtime on 6music. So, why this song? What makes it so special? The answer is a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, the fact that he HAS done everything himself, that there are no higher powers dictating the creative work he is allowed to put into the public domain, is evident in the song, and makes it that much better. I am willing to bet there are a lot of “industry professionals” who would not go near the song due to the title and controversial content, but this is no detriment, too much music is hampered by such restrictions recently. Secondly, the guy knows how to write a hook, after listening to the song trying to get ‘Yo Ho Sebastian’ out of your head is futile, it will stay there no matter how much you try to remove it. The biggest reason for the song being so poignant is the fact that in spite of the comical elements to both the song and the am-dram style video, the subject matter is serious, and when you really listen to the lyrics you realise the beauty and intelligence that runs throughout. If it was a pure run of the mill love song the sentiments in it would be enough to categorize the song as sweet and captivating, but Cosmo takes it beyond this. The theme of pirates is what provides the light relief to the fact that this is actually a striking song about extreme homophobia within a certain society. It is brave and done in such a respectful manner that it works incredibly well. The fact that there is a comic element, and real sentiment, makes the torture the fictional pirate suffers for his sexuality both more agonizing and easier to deal at the same time within the song and it is this perfect balance that makes the song phenomonal and hopefully puts Cosmo Jarvis in line for an elustrious career, because anyone with the courage and intellect to create this song and video certainly deserves success.
James Blake is without a doubt a phenomenal musical talent, and his latest single Limit To Your Love is a prime example of why. James has been heralded by Zane Lowe, Nick Grimshaw, Mary Anne Hobbs, and many more leading taste makers in the world of music. The song itself is not self-penned, in fact it is a cover of Feist. However, this is an instance when it is possible to recognise the beauty of cover versions, how they can improve and manipulate the feeling of a song. Both versions retain the inherent melancholy within the song’s lyrics, the worry of whether someone’s love is enough, and if not it leaves behind a feeling of emptiness, ‘like a map with no ocean’.
The difference, therefore is how this feeling is conveyed. In Feist’s version it is done with a soothing, incredibly melodic voice. The whole song flows easily. In contrast, James Blake’s version strips the whole thing back. It is his first full vocal appearance on a song, previously choosing to cut and manipulate anything he recorded himself. Based on this evidence, I hope he continues to utilise his voice, without adapting it too much because it is simply beautiful. It is a completely different tone from Feist’s and he clips the words more, giving each one weight and power in a way Feist’s more delicate vocals cannot. It also helps that he has stripped the music to one instrument at a time. Moving from piano to percussion and back to piano. There is very little to inhibit the vocals, therefore making the whole track a haunting experience. The track, in James Blake’s hands becomes more sinister and stirring, all the while retaining the beauty of the song as a whole.
Hopefully, he can follow this up with an equally brilliant track of his own where he continues to put in accomplished vocal performances. So here is Limit To Your Love by James Blake, and below that is Feist‘s version if you wish to compare.
Octane OK are a four piece from the Midlands, currently being featured on Kerrang radio and TV, Scuzz, Lava and Xfm Radio. Without a doubt they look like a lot of other young bands currently trying to battle the pop onslaught we are currently experiencing, but importantly, they sound just that different. They know how to right a good hook, both in lyrics and music; “The time has come to fly again”, is beautifully simple, easy to remember and sung with passion. It also helps that they have supprted all this with a video that grips you the moment you start watching, which is how I discovered them in the first place! I caught a few seconds of the video and wanted to see the outcome, and when so many people are now discovering music through visuals as well as audio it is incredibly intelligent and important to have both a song and video that engages an audience, something that Octane OK seem to understand.
In terms of their music, it’s catchy “Power Pop/Rock” akin to the currently popular sound of All Time Low. However, the music sounds more raw (insert less cheesey if you wish!). The lyrics speak honestly of strength and survival, and all the while the ever-present drum-beat keeps your head bobbing or your foot tapping in time, regardless of whether you want to or not. It is hard, therefore not to immerse yourself in the song. The other stand out difference between Octane OK and other bands like them trying to make it, is the sound of their lead singers’ vocals. Paul Tandy’s voice has an edge to it, a gruffness reminiscent of older rock stars, making it easier to identify Octane OK’s music, and also make it sound that bit more credible than some of the other bands currently at their level. Just listen to the way he sings the words “Fly Again” to understand what I mean about his voice. Below, therefore, is the video for their latest song ‘Fly Again’, and I do urge you to watch the video as well as listen to the song as both are incredibly catchy.
Even in a market flooded with female singer/songwriters Lissie stands out for her simple, underproduced music. It is easy to see why she is the current darling of music critics with her haunting voice and lyrics, so much so that it almost speaks for itself. Her current single is called Everywhere I Go with backing vocals from fellow songstress Ellie Goulding. It has a very strange video but to be honest the visuals are not what’s important, all her songs are about the listening, about losing yourself completely in the beauty of her voice and the lyrics she writes. Seeing as it is her latest single I have put below the latest single Everywhere I Go. Also I have included a song that I discovered in the process of researching Lissie, Here Before. The moment I heard it I was hooked. The video is even less important with this song than it is with Everywhere I Go, the lyrics are enough to make you just stop, listen and utterly lose yourself in the story of the song. So listen, and enjoy.