It’s Winter – at it least up here in the Northern Hemisphere – and thoughts turn to Christmas, a new year, all amidst reflections on the past. But music never stops moving forward, even when taking inspiration from yesteryear, and if didn’t we wouldn’t have another ten new tracks for your listening pleasure.
First up this week is Londoner Roxanne Emery and her track Bad Habits. It’s a track that contrasts her sweet and light vocals with a heavy subject matter, the smooth production and gentle piano taking some of the emotional sting from the heartfelt and at times bleak lyrics. Emery describes it as a snapshot of a specific time in her life and though it might possibly be hard for her to listen to right now, that doesn’t take away from the forceful but fragile beauty of the song.
We stay in in the UK with STITCH, an alt-pop trio from London. There’s very much an epic feel to their new track Fool – some of it is down to the sweeping electronic arrangement, but more of it is down to the majestic vocals of Nikita – her warm, imperious voice adds infinite depth to the track. Gray’s vocals bring a human touch to the proceedings, and together both voices almost overwhelm the listener with awe and emotion. With third member Kye, they really give you an intense and rewarding musical experience.
Transit Lounge from Australian quartet Enerate is a chilled, spacey pop song which the band say is about ‘the want to move forward to new times and new experiences’. With a sound pitched somewhere between the chilled bliss of fellow Australians Empire of the Sun and the more artistic and sometimes minimal leanings of MGMT, Transit Lounge is part pop, part art but all fun. The track features on their debut album Good Times Airlines comes with its own interactive app!
Too Old for This by New York based quartet Late Guest At The Party is one of the band’s first tracks to be released after a change in line-up since the Repeater album. Revisiting some classic acid house sounds, the band use modern production techniques to give them a fresh and vibrant feel, the vocoder effects on the vocals adding a counter-intuitively more human aspect to the overall feel of the song. The lyrics comment on the end of a relationship, how people make the same mistakes but don’t learn from them – band member Renzo who wrote the lyrics reflects on the them by saying they encapsulate the feeling of: “I’m too old for this, we both needed something different”.
ROSE TIGER (aka Wendy Killmann) describes their music as being inspired by 80’s British new-wave, 90’s video games and Manga theme music from childhood. It’s a melange you can hear on Submarine (Where Have You Been?), but the end result is a track that has a breezy and fun feel, lyrically dark at times but overall, it’s upbeat in tone. If you’re a fan of Apoptygma Bezerk, this track lives somewhere between the sound of 7 and Rocket Science – pop but with a dark side! Killmann says the lyrics are connected to a fictional story they hope to release in comic book form.
Icelandic duo East of My Youth’s Go Home is a tricky little song, the opening minute or so creating the sensation that you might be in for yet another a faux-folk banger, but the slightly eerie arrangement and Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir’s rich vocal delivery sends it off in a different direction. The skittery, offbeat bassline and the minimal synths make you feel like you’re watching a thunderstorm from a distance. With its mixture of the strange and the familiar, both lyrically and emotionally, Go Home shows East of My Youth deserve place amongst the Icelandic pantheon of bands that deliver popular music with an artistic twist!
It’s a quick return to the blog for Danes WhoMadeWho, but this time they feature as guests on Desires, the latest track from LCAW. The result is a track that is infused with the Danes’ disco sound, but there’s a real modern dancefloor feel to Desires as it takes inspiration from sounds as diverse as Air’s dreamy synth leads and post-punk’s thundering basslines. The track was written by LCAW as an instrumental, with the guys from Denmark then providing the lyrics and vocals, but it comes across as a true meeting of musical minds.
Jonny Element says his music straddles three separate worlds: those of music, literature and visual art. The Norwegian born, London raised and Berlin based (a real child of the EU!) musician has created an intriguing video for Kobun, but that shouldn’t detract your attention from the music – it feels like it comes from a universe where Sun Ra came from Spain and experimented wildly with world music and electronica, and then pushed the boundaries of what you can do with sound and rhythm yet still remaining within the parameters of the classic song structure.
Norwegians Xenturion Prime are one of my not so guilty pleasures – on Propulsion they show why they’re one of the best proponents of the powersynth sound. The overall sound is akin to powermetal but in electronic form, high tempo, high emotion and high energy. The track incorporates elements of trance and EBM, all overlaid with the slightly dystopic science fiction referencing lyrics that typify the genre. Propulsion features on the trios Humanity Plus album, one of my favourite releases on 2017!
Last up this week is yet another gem from the Little Assembly label. Milwaukee indie-electronic quartet No No Yeah Okay, quietly but brightly shine with That Ain’t You, as Colin Plant’s soulful vocals glide over shimmering guitars and an arrangement that that references indie-rock, mainstream and hip-hop beats, seemingly designed make the listener feel all warm inside. There’s a quirky side to That Ain’t You that means you’re not quite sure where it’s going next, but that’s what makes it such a fun track!
That’s it for this roundup, hope you enjoyed what you heard and we’ll be back with another ten tracks next week!