BAD SEA – Solid Air
I spent much of this song on the verge of wanting more, but each time I reach that precipice something happens. The swirling synths snare me in. The heavenly vocals in the second verse carry me away – this is a beautifully executed song. Ciara Thompson is a pool of snide sarcasm for the song’s subject “You make yourself king who carries worlds across his shoulders you’re only just a man, you’re not even very strong.” But also manages to keep a self-deprecating head “I was beautiful and blonde, and I had better men.” These are some of the best one liners you will hear this year.
Dublin duo Bad Sea have “created waves” themselves with this excellent single. No gigs lined up yet but keep an ear to the ground for these guys.
BETTY PULLS A FAST ONE – Today I Am Prince
This is a creamy slice of slow-grooving EDM pie. So many textures are going on here, there’s a lot to keep the ear entertained from the gleaming synths, feather touched bass and vocals that would suit a 90’s Madchester scene. The staccato synths help keep the flow but it’s all about the neat little fills – lots of thought has gone into the delivery of this song. Positivity flows throughout heralded by the chorus’, almost cocky, lyrics “Today I am Prince, tomorrow will be sunshine”.
Shrouding themselves in mystery with a minimal online presence (Argh!) certainly has me eager to hear more material from Betty Pulls A Fast One. No live shows announced yet with the duo apparently working on a live line-up. LP Dressed in Birds is due out in 2017.
BLISS – Porcelain
Move over Moby, there’s a new Porcelain in town – London based producer Tom Greenwood has arrived – working under the project name of Blisss. After a deceptive little intro this song becomes a tune! Another shovel of 90’s vocals too, how lucky are we this week?! Classic Britpop harmonies, the likes that Jagwar Ma are championing at the moment, in the second verse develop well into a guitar solo Noel Gallagher only writes in his dream that then plays out in a huge guitar coda. I’m imaging crowd hand claps to this, it’s written for stadiums only. Sadly, another shy social media presence – Another stomper Chalk Air can be heard on his Soundcloud.
DUSKI – Lakeside
A refreshing taste of ambient, grooved-out jazz comes next from Welsh quintet Duski. It could well be recorded live, such is the togetherness of the sound. After a measured and melodic bass intro, steady drums and soft electric piano make a perfect feathered bed for the gorgeous sax leading the groovy charge.
‘Lakeside’ naturally builds to a jammed out cacophony of wonderful noise, before almost tripping over itself on the finish line; but it’s more a graceful landing than a collapse at the end, just north of six minutes. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT.
Their self titled debut album is released on October 12th, 2016. Order it from their bandcamp page. They will accompany this release with a handful of dates in Wales including an appearance at Swnfest in Cardiff on October 21st.
MICHAEL BAKER – The Steady & The Stuck
Straight away I catch this song falling out of the shiny production tree. Once caught, I realise it’s hit a few pop branches on the way down. It’s an absolute belter, one Bon Iver would be proud of. It is easy to see why thins song was a popular choice this week. This song is taken from forthcoming debut album Dust & Bone (someone loves their ampersands) by British singer/songwriter Michael Baker, who hails from Brighton but according to his Twitter account, is currently residing in a van. The album boasts some heavy hitting names as it’s production team including including Dan Brown [Massive Attack], Ben Christophers [Bat For Lashes, Guy Garvey], and Jim Low [The Charlatans, Herbie Hancock].
Expect nothing but big things in the future.
Baker will be performing his album, in full, on October 4th at the Old Queens Head in Islington.
PINETOP SAUNA – Lips
Northwich’s answer to The Hollies, Pinetop Sauna, provide the next twist in this week’s playlist. These three gents perform with an energy and freshness that would be befitting their kids (sorry guys). Good ol’ timey harmonies aplenty, wild lead guitar and even an A Capella outro create the sound of a collective having fun with their writing and performance. There’s hope for us all and I’ve only driven through Northwich.
Winners of this week’s band name competition, by the way. A sterling effort chaps.
REWS – Miss You In The Dark
It’s not until the chorus when you realise what London/Belfast based duo REWS are all about; big, big sound. Man-eating choruses. Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams demonstrate their superb ability to create pop anthems with a heavy guitar engine. What starts out as a brooding statement grows into THAT chorus with lush, polished vocals seizing the moment.
They’ve already had attention from Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and 6Music’s Steve Lamacq, as well as air play on Kerrang! And Planet Rock. This is their 4th single as a duo and it follows previous tunes that keep you singing the choruses all day long.
They’ve had a busy festival summer season and have a few dates coming up in October including Cardiff and London.
SERA – Through The Wild
Intros really are my favourite part of any song. Sera has thought this one out to the Nth degree. So many textures and new instruments join the party – subtle shifts in dynamics draw us in and take us on what feels like an epic journey all within the first minute. Those ghostly vocals really make you shiver with the wailing electric guitar and it’s partner. Massive drums take the song to another level with Sera’s vocals ever presence, ever at the forefront of the listener attention.
‘Through The Wild’ is taken from her new album Little Girl, which was released in September, and makes for a beautiful and poignant album opener. Website is under construction, D’oh! She has played Festival No. 6 and opened for Mumford & Sons in 2012.
THE HEMPOLICS – Me Love To Sing
Need an injection of skanked-up grooving? Well, this is a dubby shot straight to the veins. The vocals are covered in the classic dub-style reverb bringing the strictly sunshine vibes to this summery track. The chorus is crowd friendly; a singalong cry of “You know me love to sing” repeats over and has us “movin’ and skankin’”. You know a band that you instantly want to see live. This. Right here.
London based The Hempolics have no gigs lined up but this looks like the start of a revival. “The best band in the UK” according to Maxi Jazz. You can’t really argue with Maxi, can you?
WILLIAM GRAY – There
Quietly bringing about the end of this week’s playlist is the fragile and haunting sound of William Gray. I thought, for a brief moment, that this would be another acoustic slope down sensitive lane. A solid pound of kick drum shakes off my fears – the is the start of the gradual build of the song’s arc. As Gray exclaims “You don’t know where I am, I’m already there” before a brotherly guitar and bass share rising and falling passages, he reminds me of an early Ben Christophers. Best listened to late at night, curled up with headphones, to embark on a journey to another place.
Originally from the UK, now based in China, Gray has a handful of releases to his name already. ‘There’ is taken from his new EP Seine which is available now from his Bandcamp page.
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