- Music blogger, record label owner, PR person, Christmas music writer.
mp3hugger is my indie music blog based in Dublin, Ireland. I also run a record label called Indiecater (http://www.indiecater.com), write about Christmas music all year round for http://www.christmassongs.me, engaged in some music PR here http://www.huggerpr.com, and sob about the Republic of Ireland football team on http://www.eire.guide In general submissions will be responded to within 24 hours.
- artist management, music industry, music promotion, creative writing, record labels, web design, mixtapes, music writing / blogging, music reviews
- indie rock, alternative, indie pop, folk, indie, electronica, music, dream pop, alternative rock, indie folk, synthpop, shoegaze, experimental, post-rock, indietronica, lo-fi, grunge, football, indie electronic, movies, brit-pop
Though unusual I must say I do like approaching a song with little or no background info. It’s the sense of discovery, that at any minute my favourite new song could be about to appear from nowhere. And this is how !A!’s experimental bout of ‘Laughing’ entered my sphere of noise, a strange concoction that might have jettisoned in from the outer atmosphere such are its alien charms. That it settles down into something slightly more earthly is only half successful because the song initially emits a rather industrial sound that is devoid of charm. But then the strangest thing happens and ‘Laughing’ plucks heartfelt atmosphere from seemingly nowhere. Suddenly I’m thinking that this band deliberately set out to confuse us, to lull us into a false sense of hopelessness before emerging like the heroes they are with an epic save. !A! are not British Sea Power but they could potentially be as good.
With the seasons changing, the leaves already shorn this song so reminded me of a barenaked tree. Still imperious but without its outer clothing it seemed timid, alone and in search of something that would offer amiable company. The chords tugged like tiny rustling branches and a vocal trunk that struggles to get itself heard makes for a collective of sounds that just demand devoted attention. If anything ‘In My Arms’ gets more delicate as it progresses but it also signal a stronger voice, made possible by the slowly emerging blanket of snow that convincingly turned this structure into fine art, albeit as delicate as porcelain.
Really nice name for an artist and for lots of reason the music that drifts from his mind is equally arresting. Though the vocals have an R&B quality this is firmly in the electronic arena, though with that chorus it could be the pop charts that see most of the action. Could see ‘Godlike’ working well on a drama, Scandinavian or closer to home it probably won’t matter because there an earthy feel to what is going on here. I’m reminded most of a contemporary artist working in the same space called Slow Magic who also has a gift for colouring his sounds with something altogether visual.
More verified funk from Bo Haan that channels a Scritti Politti/Michael Jackson hybrid. The one thing that really stands out on Bo’s music is how assured it is, both production and songwriting wise. This genre of music is not really my bag but if I heard this on the radio I’d be convinced it was from a million selling artist such are its splendid arrangements and the wonderful layered vocals. The biggest compliment I could make is that it sounds like a fully functioning old school song, the one that you can remember long after it has made its presence known. And what a voice Mr. Haan has, a falsetto from heaven.
Orouni quite obviously don’t go in for obvious musical constructs which means they are ahead of the competition straight away in my book. ‘The Peanut Specialist’ is an odd confection that forever exhibits a loose and freewheelin’ spirit but then it does tend to reach for melodic asides intermittently to sugar the experience. There is a grand build too that reaches its logical conclusion before falling off a cliff and petering out in the splashing waves below without little or no struggle. All told I am a little confused, it’s as if Orouni just let it flow without adhering to what their marketing team have whispered in their ears about what makes a winning pop song. Good on them for that though it may take a little more focus before a wider audience pricks up their ears.
This is a classic love song and the last time I checked this genre of music still have a world of fans out there. With lyrical poetry it means the readers (and the watchers too going by the sumptuous video) are onside but what about the listeners? Well Celeste Buckingham can certainly create theatre with that precious voice of hers, doesn’t even take a huge amount of instrumental backing to ensure a haunting atmosphere. I know she doesn’t mention Heathcliff but this is of a similar ilk, so much so that I can imagine the marketing suits beating a path to offer a tasty reward for the use of ‘Loving You’ on their flashy new game or handheld device. It’s beautiful and I can’t for the life of me imagine anyone else who would think differently.
It’s easy to see why Holly Drummond’s music has already made it on youth programming because it is immaculately produced, hear a needle drop kind of stuff. The real gift however is her vocals which have the purest quality, the expression is genuine and her annunciation makes it sound like she is in the room with you. Like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ for music that ushers you into the scene that Drummond colours so vividly. So crystal is the sound you’ll probably hear your own heartbeat, that is before it gets whisked away by this captivating chanteuse.
‘All My Love’ certainly has history on its side, mostly owing to its late 20th century cross decade appeal. Specifically there are flashes of dayglo electro 80’s numbers from the likes of Erasure, electro Depeche Mode and even Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. So now we established that there is a big audience is it any cop? The answer would have to be in the affirmative but only after you’ve broken it down and put it together into a meaningful whole in your head. This is a real grower, the way those A-ha tracks used to first confuse before taking you over like an alien lifeform looking for an earthy host. Memoryy’s are indeed made of this.
Atmospheric post-rock with a celtic twist, now there’s a new one on me. Or at least it was until What If Elephants showed us that they also had a singer in tow. A pretty good one as it happens, one that can emote as well as reach those high notes. That ‘Getaway’ was recorded live and still manages to sound intimate is some achievement by the band, especially as every instrumental part syncs so perfectly. In fact the band take risks trying so many things within the space of one song, without any sense of being unnecessarily overloaded. At times it felt quite emotional, something that strings are sure to bring to any piece. With an emotional narrative arcing skywards I put aside any misgivings I had been harbouring about this song being a little too manipulative and just went with it. At the finish I was kicking myself that I wasn’t at McGill University Studios that special night.
They could be channeling their inner Daft Punk but ‘A Scene Like That’ owes much to the dancefloor fillers of yore. At various parts I was reminded of other greats like Basement Jaxx because this song has the funk for a room full of drunken move makers. This is a song that is constantly evolving, rolling out new sounds at every turn, and stripping it back to the basics like an early 90’s A Guy Called Gerald. Inevitably it eventually coalesces into a blazing crescendo that would surely whip the masses into a sweaty version of their former selves.
Friday night love eh, much more quirky than Saturday night love and with a pinch more authenticity. And now there is a soundtrack to highlight the event, and what a jumble of cute noise it is. From the Doors like synths to the blazing brass this is a loose and freewheelin’ homage to events that happen after we drop our 9-to-5 guard and become what we are inside. No surprises that it comes from an artist called Benjimanji, the name itself just conjures fun and frolics. Who cares if the vocals are a little thin in places because this is the real world and we want to feel it in all its glory.
I can see where man’s best friend comes into the art for Yaya Club’s album (as if the album title was enough to give the game away) because this is music as a companion. Never intrusive but always comforting tracks like ‘Next Train Home’ are so easy on the ear they are to be welcomed at any time. Once again the music is a delight, a ramble of soft noise that skips along with the consummate ease and an air of glee. It’s a simple formula that Yaya Club appears adept at mining for charming nuggets. No home should be without one.
It is with a bit of trepidation that I prepared for a second track from Yaya Club. My first brush with them had been a close to faultless occasion so I set myself up for disappointment. Thankfully ‘Snakes and Ladders’ was another delight, even if the vocals took a second or two to find their calming inner selves. The acoustics were beautifully arranged, autumnal and colourful they offered a delightful frame for the words. This is a serenity to Yaya Club’s songs, a rest assured mentality which means an album of like-minded sorts could be the best possible thing for your addled head.
With not a scrap of bio to guide one I was instantly put at ease by the low slung acoustics of ‘Down at the Bottom’. The first influence that seeped through occurred when the male/female vocals cut a mighty fine Low dash. For the rest of the time it sounded like this could have easily sat on any number of Mojave 3 albums, country for people that don’t particularly like country. The soft jangling guitar parts meant that the song never flags, shimmering through several minutes of late evening gorgeousness. This is dreamy stuff, executed in a languid style that could become utterly addictive.
A mix of electronic and acoustic is what Head to Head boast but the early passages of ‘The Color Watch’ is very much an artificial being, albeit with a fully functioning soul. In some respects it sounds kinda dated, the drum parts could well have been employed by Cameo in the mid 80’s but this piece does have an elegant arc. It follows convention to a degree in that there is a build but then it deconstructs and reforms into something altogether new about half way through. This is both nifty and confusing, not exactly what the Saturday night crowd will appreciate unless they are having the night of their lives and need to find a neat plateau towards that ascendancy. There is no mistaking that ‘The Color Watch’ has plenty of cheese to offer but it still makes for a vintage listen all the same.
Opening with a riff that is familiar, the ring of which stays throughout the song, this is a song that shouldn’t take too long to work its way into the affections of listeners. I was sold on it from the start as much for that hook as well as Knox’s vocals which certainly have an individual streak. The energy is propulsive and I could easily see ‘Shotgun Shells’ working its magic on a Saturday night goals roundup or an advert for the latest 1-billion pixel phone designed to tug at the heartstrings of technology aficionados. All told this is a bubbly little number, an album of similar nuggets could be a real charm.
She’s definitely got the wind in her sails, a confidence that just oozes from ‘Perfect Nightmare’ that makes for a seductive ode to tired love. The song is well put together, atmospheric and all the production techniques and quirks, although nice, do nothing to displace Briel’s bright vocals which are really where the real triumph lies in this song. At times her strains stands alone and you might just arrest what you’re doing to take in what she is singing about. There are a lot of female vocalists of this ilk but Briel appears to have character on her side, an off-kilter quality that no amount of studio wizardry should ever diminish.
This duo are obviously a slick team, you can tell as much from their promo shots. But while it’s easy to dress up it is a different prospect altogether to back it up with audio that is just as fetching. ‘No Words To Describe’ is a bit of all things to all men with a story to tell, unveiled over beautiful acoustic playing while the chorus coos like a tropical undiscovered relative of the Malabar Whistling Thrush. This is so personality filled it may well have been recorded in one take in front of a small select audience of ardent admirers. I say that because you can feel the electricity and the two-way love between the artist and their loyal disciples. Just gorgeous.
The witching hour of the scariest night of the year is not that far away so songs of this ilk will likely raise in prominence over the next couple of weeks. And though the scares might not be altogether chilling ‘The Only Girl You Know’ makes for a nice departure from the workaday flow of contemporary indie numbers. For all that I don’t think I could make out a single word from the lyrical flow so have no idea what the motivation was for the extremely well judged falsettos. This will appeal to fans of the Shins, an acoustic rumble with plenty of mystery and feisty action hovering just below the surface.
The best approach is to let things grow organically but for 99% that is just not enough to get it heard so target music blogs who are posting songs that are similar to your own. And going by ‘Overboard’ you should have plenty of admirers given the classic template that forms the basis of this song. This is classic late 80’s to mid-90’s indie, a real song with vocal character and chord changes to hang your hat on. It reminded me of the Scottish act Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and similar acts from way up there. The video takes an obvious thematic approach and it is quite a visual treat in its own right, and together with the music provides a giddy combo that you should be proud of.
‘Red Dust’ is elegant and stacked sumptuously with the layers of fine musicianship, the weathered vocal just adds that necessary gravitas. The song has a genuine ring of early Gomez about it, like an outtake from ‘Bring it on’ with its myriad of subtle sonic devices designed to pull you closer to its way of thinking. Rodello's Machine are way beyond accomplished, they can write songs that are free spirited that boast an import to set it apart from the generic swathes that pass for much of modern music.
Levv have heady ambitions borne out the shackles imposed on them by people who care more about the bottom line than the creative arts that might ensure it. So it comes as no surprise that their ‘Arrow’ is a colourful bird treating the open skies as its playground. It is a liberating listen, bubbling with intent and atmosphere. The feeling and love Levv have for their craft is there for all to see, which ultimately results in gorgeous ambient textures that are topped off by Audrey Assad’s glacial vocals. The valour that ensures victory is arrived at via giant drums which provide a heavy extreme to the soft moods that precede them.
What an odd little number but one which will weasel its way into plenty of people’s hearts. With Doorsesque organ opening it certainly had my attention. Pete Feliciano’s dancing, which while not in the same league as Samuel T. Herrings, also has a hypnotic quality borne owing to its lack of self-awareness. When Lizzie Karr joins proceedings it’s time for the girls to take over and that’s where things step down into the basement. It’s darkly lit to hide the things that go bump and grind in the night. Much like the tenuous relationship being played out this is a song that will burn brightly before fading into the distance. Job done really.
Might be a mouthful and a curse for journalists with no access to the web but then Haiganoush are worth the effort if ‘Step In’ is anything to go by. Veronica Melkonian has that bolshie chanteuse rhythm down to a T and there’s no denying that much of this tune success is as a result of her character filled vocals. The music is eclectic to say the least and despite all manner of noisy interference it hardly takes from the centre of attention, which I must say reminded me of Sarah Cracknell on more than one occasion. This is a spirited and ballsy release, a brave new dawn for a pair of siblings with something really worthwhile to say.
I was initially reminded of Washed Out on ‘Asphyxiate’ which would have been funny if Colour Theory had decided to plough that particular furrow. As it turned out this is a duo very much of their own making, with unsteady and lopsided beats and a softly tingling Jean Michel Jarre synth backdrop. The vocals are ghostly in their delivery, never quite giving of themselves yet alluring enough to draw you closer to what they have to say. The video had me reeling and contemplating Eyes Wide Shut but then the music meant that it was really an exercise in ears wide open. Oddly compelling.
I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’ve never been handed such a weighty submission on Fluence. At first I was a little overwhelmed at what I was tasked to pour over given the length of music involved and especially given that the classical genre is somewhat alien to me. By the end however both my eyes and especially my ears had been woken up to choral virtuosity (Ray Conniff being my only touchstone to this point) courtesy of Spanish composer Victor Manuel Gómez Uralde. ‘Oratorio de los últimos tiempos’ is a musical composition that features distant organs to open the album, a multitude of choirs and soloists which are recorded in such low def I had to crank the volume way past my usual comfort zone. Once adjusted it felt as if I’d been spirited into Westminster Abbey for a hymnal procession that veered from haunting to melancholic right back to a sense of uplifting hope. It was quite a journey. Being not used to such heavy portents it was quite a relief that ‘Oratorio de los últimos tiempos’ had plenty of variety over its 36 minutes plus. I can’t even imagine the planning that was required to organise a cast of dozens into such a meaningful whole. But gel it does as female soloists lift the soul with sprightly attention seeking heart revelations before opera’s version of call-and-response bookended the longest serenade I’ve listened to this side of Belle & Sebastian. For the most part the singing was pitched like grand oration acapella so it arrived unaccompanied, and without music, but such was its glass shattering potential it certainly didn’t need any bolstering. I felt the turning of the seasons throughout with winter’s dark pall hanging over plenty of its passages while the budding of spring stepped in periodically to lift the almost unbearable weightiness of being. At the album settled down into female soprano dominated arcs I felt my interest wane a little, even if the voices were so pure as to approximate a caffeine hit and help resist any attempts at non-attentiveness. The funereal approach to much of the central movements felt like the piece of Ikea supporting me had been transformed into a pew. That hasn’t happened often I might add but as the album spirited towards a close it adopted a lighter more humour filled tone. I enjoyed this album, as much for its polar oppositeness of my usual listening tastes as anything else. Good music is good music no matter the genre and it’s obvious that Victor Manuel Gómez Uralde is adept at what he does. Again, I was a little surprised at the production, given how painstaking it must have been to weave such an epic recording together but in some ways it added credence to the feeling of being in a holy shrine. I did some research on this album and there is little evidence of it appearing around the web so hopefully Uralde’s appeal will soon stretch beyond traditional audiences and into the lives of those in most need of it. How could you not be affected by the loveliest version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (and it may not be even be Auld Lang Syne) I’ve heard this side of last Christmas.
There is nothing more exciting than a new band bursting out of their garage and letting what has been festering inside for years out into the world for general consumption. In most cases it is the most ravishing music they will ever make so it comes as some surprise to hear how restrained and cerebral Forever are on one of their first tracks. ‘Loose’ lives up to its name, dangling its tempting melodies in out of reach places while making like a teaspoon of oil in a saucepan of boiling water. I guess what I am trying to say is that these lads are hard to pin down but what they offer in the few minutes that ‘Loose’ limbers about is a taste of experimental joie-de-vivre. Whether it takes them very far remains to be seen but I for one am happy that they’ve seen fit to express themselves in such a curiously divine way.
An exotic name like that deserves a worthy soundtrack and in ‘Dottie, Queen of the West’ the Persian Leaps have found it. With a strumming entourage that would do justice to Teenage Fanclub it is left to the vocals to take the piece a few more steps closer to indie pop heaven. This is a song that is not confined by classic boundaries however as ditches bridge chorus flip flopping for a more rounded sense of organic melody. This not only bolsters its longevity but adds a character and nuance that are often absent for more linear nuggets. A genuine gem.
It never rains but it pours for Monoculture and this time it’s raining a beautiful jangle that compliments the tidily dispatched vocals. All told it is a neat combination that would grant ‘Men in the Trenches’ a guarantee for mixtape deployment were such things even possible these days. Falling as it does under the 3-minute mark makes it ideal for closing off the perfect C-90, a nugget with a beating heart, winning smile and oodles personality to charm all. Monoculture might yet be giants and on this evidence they already are.
I love moody, atmospheric openings and ‘Sell Phone’ certainly fits the before ditching the disguise and hurtling head first into an expansive grunge metal epic. The guitars’ rampaging nature are never overwhelming so the vocals, albeit slightly in the distance, have room to convey their sentiments about the all-pervasive and invasive disease that is handheld technology. This has the early-nineties written all over it with the ghost of Kurt Cobain flitting amongst the grand shadows cast by the chord pillars. Like Cobain’s band Head Exploder bring plenty of melody with the intense volume which is a lavish device that is hard to grow tired of. This is very close to intensely exciting and bodes well for the band’s other material.
Memoryy’s music is the sound of summer and with at least a month to go before it fades into oblivion he is pulling out all the stops to make 2015 a season to remember. On the evidence of ‘Feeling Sinister’ he appears to have raised his game even further than before with a composition that ticks all the boxes to ensure a wide audience. That said this is the very definition of a grower, a song that might not initially reveal its subtle grooves but several re-runs just underline how carefully it has been assembled. As well as being a smile inducer the latino swing that breaks through at the end should bring everyone within earshot to their feet with the intention of breaking some tango moves. Quite an achievement then, from an artist who is improving rapidly with each new release.
Soft rock as a rule gives me the chills, like MOR but with a modicum of cool. So when I read Starar’s (nice name btw) profile I put on an extra layer. Thankfully ‘ScrapYardLand’ was much better than I expected though it did sound a little underproduced, or else the bitrate on the recording was set too low. Regardless this is a real song, sung by a real band with a clear vision. And while that might not be what will save the music industry it is nonetheless the bedrock of what keeps music fans coming back for more. Starar aren’t in the revolution business but with mini victories like this song in their armoury they should be very pleased with themselves.
There are plenty of surreal moments in this quirky video that certainly raise quite a few smiles but it is the music from Curious Gracie that held me in its grip. Encased in the environs of what could easily slip into daytime radio playlists is a bolshie little number with oodles of personality. So much so that I can see why it could inspire the kaleidoscope of ideas in the promo. Rather than squeezing notions from an unforgiving brain this piece of audio could tempt them rather surreptitiously into the open without any effort at all. I imagine Fleetwood Mac would be quite proud of this and Peter Gabriel the video, which really is as high a recommendation as I could give this.
Let’s cut to the chase will we, just like Sleep Status do on ‘Snaphu’, and say that this is as refreshing a sonic whirr that you’ll get in 2015. Forget about the noodling, just let it seep from inside like you always dreamed it would in your formative years. ‘Snaphu’ is propulsive, dynamic and sports a chorus that makes up for its shortage of melody with a blistering instinctive urgency. I’m reminded of a pumped up rock juggernaut with Primal Scream at the controls or perhaps Idlewild if their vision hadn’t clouded over time. Incendiary, Technology is the future it seems.
Given Jack’s little intro and the fact that one of my fave bands ever come from Colorado (Candy Claws) the expectation was giving me little tingles. ‘The End of the World with You’ certainly doesn’t come out all guns blazing but when you are playing with a classical piece of music you had better makes sure your opening moves are well judged. When Sam’s voice finally breaks it reveals something quite different, almost like a commentary on the environment all around. There is a hymnal quality at work here and it certainly packs plenty of emotional heft. Twisting his vocals through the machines was a risk but it works superbly contrasting with the sun beaming classical notes. The build is quite beautiful and should tug at the affections of plenty, not just the object of Sam’s affections in this tune. At the end your head will swirl and your heart will likely swoon too.
The refreshing aspect of X-Change’s remix of Pharrell’s ‘Freedom’ is that there is no hanging around on ceremony, the rewards came pretty much straight away. Much like the title of the song there is sense of unbridled escapism in the DJ’s approach, a wildly oscillating piece of intricacy that can’t help but tear up any dancefloor. I’m a good deal out of touch about what goes on down in the Balearic’s but this piece of thunder and lightning could potentially be wildly popular. It may even cure some forms of mild arthritis, and all you have to do in exchange is take a listen. Invigorating.
What a smouldering piece of music to hear first thing in the morning, with this on rotation who needs the birds in the trees. The vocals are otherworldly and the general atmosphere is of something that hovers just above the surface of reality. Baron Bane’s cover is blown just before the minute mark however when ‘Fire Play’ gathers all its 80’s synth signature points and maps a course to the melodic lowlands. The players in the promo ape the robotic kraut movements of yore but ‘Fire Play’ has a belly for getting itself noticed rather than operating in the cool shadows. This is uplifting stuff, a nod to the past that remains steadfastly in the present. Expect future love.
From their profile it is clear that Gold Jacks hearts are in the right place with a mission to give the underground back its soul. And their ‘Take it Back’ is an impressive stab at making good on their promise. This is deep and dirty alternative rock that introduces us to a real band who are there for the music rather than the free lipstick and eyeliner. To that end it is quite possible that you’ll bump into them in an half lit tavern as they set about slowly right the wrongs in a music industry collapsing in on its own homogeneity. In truth the band’s sound isn’t particularly revolutionary but it has balls and a certain sneer that the hero bands of yore sported in considerable abundance.
2015 is shaping up to be the year of the ethereal girl vocal and Salwa Azar is riding that particular zeitgeist with consummate ease. ‘Floating in Milk’ is lo-fi folk in direction, as quiet as a mouse but possessing undeniable spirit. As such it is just made for lazy summer afternoons when the shape of later events have yet to be mapped out. The song sifts the nothingness for nuggets of reason and it more or less succeeds. Not bad for a girl who shifts between Amos and Newsom before discovering that it’s best to stick to what you know best, namely what’s been inside all along.
It’s clear that the rain has stopped outside because Vizion’s ‘Vanessa’ is beaming from ear to ear. She may in fact be the sun rising in the East, a slow burning colossus that has the incendiary power to illuminate all around it. And so as noon arrives the rays become more pronounced and send their feelers to every living organism above ground. Such are their searching capabilities however that the darker recesses beneath are also likely to feel her soft caresses. It’s only when the shafts of cloud cover hove into view that the glow diminishes, when all the pointers suggested that the fireball in the sky would be much more than another distant shape in the sky. The west is awake, just.
Given that his day job is as drummer to Sean Lennon it is perhaps not too surprising that the scaffolding present on Tim Kuhl’s ‘1982’ is of broken beats. The memories are truly cast however on the alien synths that lounge about in the distance offering a sense of other-worldliness. This sounds like ‘Airborn’ era Mike Oldfield or Jean Michel Jarre were he to drop the light show and instead concentrate on satisfying an audience crammed into the coolest upstairs venue. You can almost picture the smoke hanging in the air while the patrons creating the same plumes drift in and out of conversations that amount to everything and nothing. It’s that sort of tune, classification is inappropriate.
Coming from a country where a shortage of road means that trucker tales don’t really get an airing, it is always fascinating to read how the other half lives. And that is exactly what Working Class Hussys theme their brand of Americano on. For all that there is a sense of nuance in what this band are peddling, a little bit of familiar with a generous helping of unexpected harmony and guitar dynamics. To tell you the truth I wasn’t for one second expecting ‘To Tennessee’ to be this good and I’m feeling all the better for the experience, in the knowledge that this is a band taking workaday situations and colouring them with their undoubted musical gifts. A real find and in the process my narrow tastes have been ever so slightly broadened.
Catchy name for a band, it had me thinking of a child’s novel, importantly it had me thinking. Their song ‘The Future Can’t Be Known’ is similarly tailored with a childlike innocence that recalls the Boy Least Likely To. Such is the bobbing momentum that clapping along seems like entirely the right thing to do and given that the vocals are often sung in unison there could be a campfire somewhere out there with this as its tinder. Things get decidedly more experimental, however, as the song develops and the video descends into awkward creepiness. With ragged feedback drenched chords the order of the day this is a band with serious range, lulling the listener into a false sense of security with those earlier manoeuvres before frightening the bejesus out of them when their back is turned. Neat, unkempt and flatulently arty – this is great stuff.
What a visceral piece of house music from Calimba, which is imbued with so much character you might need a nap after riding its monstrous peaks. ‘Katapult’ would be ideal as a route to loosening limbs before hitting the weekend dancefloors if it weren’t so short but then you could extend the euphoria by piecing several bursts together. There is no build to climax on this one with the fully formed epicenter throbbing its little heart out from the get go. By stretching, manipulating and generally having his wicked way with it I believe Calimba could have the makings of a number of classic remixes.
The Portnoy Brothers are channelling a neatly updated Simon & Garfunkel sound which is quite a feat given how little that classic pairing have been successfully reprised. That said there is plenty of individuality in their acoustic rambles with ‘Memories’ hosting a remarkably solemn disposition with an unlikely brass turn that gives the piece a unique presence. It is soft and lilting without ever falling into the trap of cutesy melodrama. The Portnoy Brothers appear as if they’ve crafted the nuances from genuine emotion as opposed to documenting a feeling that appeared on a Facebook page. In a narcissistic world such authenticity deserves respect, admiration and attention.
Opening like a monster Mogwai epic this quickly morphed into a lighter shade of MGMT. The effect was exhilarating as the alien backdrop throbbed and reverbed while Ian Aware provided the steady vocal line. About 90 seconds in I wondered how such a bright opening could sustain itself over 6 minutes but there was a constant trickle of fresh ideas throughout so the journey never grew tired. Soon enough the bluster of the opening salvo was replaced by a calm interior that veered towards sun-coming-up Balearic sounds. When the epicentre duly arrived it was as good as the build deserved, psych in nature it filled the room with its off-kilter glory. This is an unhurried gem that I shall return to many times.
Such a blunderbuss of an opening, a glam era stomper that even includes the fuzzy distorted vocals so representative of that era. With its contemporary values this could even pass for a Primal Scream issue (or Sigue Sigue Sputnik if you were looking even further back) were it not for the rush of blood that arrives around the 90 second mark. From then on in countless gallons of adrenaline are pumped into an entity that displays all the attributes of a nuclear reactor on the lookout for the escape value. Ian Aware has created a supreme crash-bang-wallop in ‘Right Now’ that will effortlessly spill from indie disco speakers on Fridays nights for the foreseeable future.
There is obviously so much going on in Mr Fogg’s head, an explosion of ideas that will ultimately lead to his world domination. In the interim his music will challenge the notion that music in 2015 is not wholly pushing the boundaries. His ‘Time To Ascend’ is artful noise, an emotional well fed from an infinite spring that curates the very best of the human spirit. For all that it is minimal in its approach, a sparse beat, a needy synth, a throbbing bass line and those ever so delicate vocals that appear as if they are on the cusp of disintegrating. Things do eventually soar, to the relief of all, with a brassy aside threatening to pierce those tear ducts you’ve so manfully insulated all those years ago. This quietly unbinds the living spell, to let us dream it like we always hoped we could.
Wai Lana possesses one of the most unusual voices I’ve ever heard, on several occasions I had to check whether it was a wooden flute instrument rather that a singer making these soothing sounds. Her song ‘Namaste’ was recorded to celebrate international yoga day and boy does it fit the bill. With visuals depicting show-mo scenes from beautiful locations all around the world this is very much a treat for the eyes as it is for the ears. ‘Namaste’ plays out over several acts, each with its own personality but always exuding a happy demeanour. In fact it would take a heart of stone not to come away from the experience with a smile on your face. Such is the devotion of the participants involved that at certain points the video took on the feeling of a religious occasion. All told this is a reflective delight.
As far as capturing the zeitgeist goes Carly Eden has it down, as the softly tinkled ivories and strong yet vulnerable vocals appeal to a vast Glee/Frozen loving world. There is vulnerability in spades despite the slightly narcissistic request to be immortalised in coloured oils. Where ‘Paint Me’ succeeds, and where others drift away to saturated sameville, is in the beautiful arrangements. This is where the magic begins to emerge, where the creative art becomes a living thing and the clockwork mechanics reveal a beating heart with the power to melt those all around.