Kevin Hugger

Kevin Hugger


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Kevin Hugger

Title
Music blogger, record label owner, PR person, Christmas music writer.
Bio
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.
Website
Expertise
artist management, music industry, music promotion, creative writing, record labels, web design, mixtapes, music writing / blogging, music reviews
Interests
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
Location
Dublin

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Dashal Beevers submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

Life is really about being true to yourself but embed a respect for others in the pursuit of that goal. And that is something that Inspired have as a cornerstone on their ‘John’s Song’, a gorgeous singalong that could work as easily around the campfire as it would at church. It helps that there is an immediacy to this song, the preaching from the pulpit is never overwhelming but the message that is put forward certainly stays with you. Around the sloganeering is a lovely vocal sway that is so tender and soft all that you’ll be left with is bundles of gratitude that it has entered your day at the precise moment you felt like smiling at our wonderful world. Happiness promoting and ultimately succeeding, a rare thing. 

Lydia Luce submitted media.

Love You True by Lydia Luce

Kevin Hugger

Sometimes there is a thin line between earnest and maudlin but thankfully Lydia Luce has come out on the right side with her ‘Love You True’. The reason is clear from the very first moments of this acoustic tune, which undoubtedly wears its heart on its sleeve but has such a crystallised and genuine persuasion it is impossible to dislike. 'Love You True' is accessible folk country for a wide audience with beautiful playing throughout and Luce’s vocals have a gorgeous homespun quality to them. An gentle Sunday afternoon listen and one that will reward further inspection later in the week. Impressive.    

Jason Kendall submitted media.

Jason Kendall by Make Big Plans

Kevin Hugger

Jason Kendall has written looking for advice on how he can be better at his craft and while this is often a noble expression of intent I often worry that the wrong advice could spoil individuality. And Kendall certainly has a singular view, though there are flashes of Bowie in his widescreen vocals, a vigour and controlled intensity that is plainly absent from artists who are merely playing from the what-is-already-selling-millions-of-records template. ‘Make Big Plans’ really cheers me up, it’s a bundle of delight and a clear illustration of an artist who is progressing nicely under his own inspired tutelage. 

ANIGO submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

Not exactly a cheery theme but then a voice like Anigo’s is quite capable of making those feelings redundant such is its gravitas. There are plenty of rough edges on this tune, befitting a demo, but there is an ingrained haunting quality throughout which makes the idea of the finished product an intriguing prospect. I kept coming back to Nico as a possible inspiration because it sounds like Anigo is untroubled by what people think of her music, with the prime motivation being to exorcise the demons from within. In the right time of lounge, with the smoke hanging thick in the air there’ll soon be a captive audience gripped by the sonic tension all around.  

Nicolás Cóppola submitted media.

Warp Gate 1039 by Nicolás Cóppola

Kevin Hugger

I’ve always thought that the relaxation room wing of a health spa was undernourished from a pipped music point of view. It always seems incidental, forever unchallenging and with seemingly no purpose but to kill the sound of silence. Pointless in other words, silly really when the lazer guided melodies of Nicolás Cóppola are much fitter for purpose. Cóppola’s ‘Warp Gate 1039’ has a softly focused yet engaging demeanour that will do wonders for those wishing for a inner mind that wonders beyond the drudgery of modern homogeneity. Forget the shopping that still needs to be done in time for Christmas and instead pick the presidential suite in a 21st century Millennium Falcon that has been specially commissioned for star gazing and new world discovery. Let the synth pulses massage your every electro brain wave, ironing out the kinks until the tunnel vision that emerges leaves you a better person, or at the very least someone with ideas and creativity to offer the world. Don your robe, gulp that exotic fruit drink and let ‘Warp Gate 1039’ take you to another dimension. 

Ricardo Temporao submitted media.

Never Fade by BRUTUS BEGINS

Kevin Hugger

Brutus Begins don’t appear to care how other bands sound or what this hour’s zeitgest is because they are led from their own internal machinations. Now that is refreshing, despite a production that might be a little away from pristine, and something to be cherished in an increasingly homogeneous music world. ‘Never Fade’ is calm, cool and collected and chooses the right moments to burst forth with incandescent melody and ever so lovely chorus. That it sustains itself for almost 5 minutes just illustrates the confidence this band possess. Pretty exciting all told, a band with oodles of potential that will likely unveil a canon of winning numbers before too long. 

Jordan Prince submitted media.

Parade by Jordan Prince

Kevin Hugger

Jordan Prince’s take on a life of endless possibilities consigned to a pile of broken dreams is one he chooses to dictate in a manner akin to the warm expanses of a sirocco breeze.  As such it a dichotomy of easy acoustics versus the harsh realities of the psychedelic prism as viewed from the end of a bottle. I’d wager you’ll think of Simon & Garfunkel who were masterful in similarly pulling the rug from beneath a mirage of soothing sounds. Prince’s playing is the star turn here and things really flower when he harmonises. But for all that I get the creeping feeling that he could have sprung a surprise or two more to help guide the narration into the darker recesses of the chief protagonist’s downward trajectory.  

Bobby Lewis submitted media.

The Clause by Mustardmind

Kevin Hugger

Given the proximity to Christmas I was half thinking that ‘The Clause’ was going to be a homily to  Santa. I certainly knew better within a couple of seconds of Mustardmind’s serrated jangle and outwardly baggy experimentalism. This is a stare at the floor type of effort, all cool swerves and musical acumen along with a frontman who leads the line with swaggering detachment. Like what New Fast Automatic Daffodils used to do, pummelling us with all manner of interesting sounds before serving it up on a cold plate without cutlery. Naturally it goes down very well in these parts but whether Mustardmind can continually return to the same dark and eerie well is open to question. Stellar as these things go.   

Zack Anselm submitted media.

Somehow Part I & II by !mindparade

Kevin Hugger

Experimental doesn’t sell, it’s a plain and simple fact. What it does do however, every now and then at least, is attract critical love and offer a sense of sonic inebriation to a cohort of rabid fans. And I can hear that quality in !mindparade’s music. It will probably inhabit the fringes and be untroubled by the gaze of the masses but it is so refreshing to hear an artist telling it as he hears it in his own head. There is a Beatles influence at work here, especially in the drifting vocals and slaloming stereo pulses. Could also pick up on a nod to Screamadelica era Primal Scream, but whether such a lofty comparison might mean anything to !mindparade is open to question given that that album is almost a quarter of century old (try Jagwar Ma for something more contemporary). All told this is an enjoyable trip, perhaps not entirely cohesive but with enough highs to make it an entirely memorable experience.  

Amy Kress submitted media.

Iceland by Amy Kress

Kevin Hugger

Not really sure if Amy Kress is referring to the island of Iceland or just the situation she finds herself in, probably the latter since it is her other half that appears to inspired the piece. And what a pretty little thing it is. There is emotion spilling from every word but Kress somehow stands adrift of the sentiments by delivering a note perfect sense of the chanteuse at work. The video is really pretty too but is probably at odds with the narrative which features two souls rather than a comfortable gathering of friends and family (during a warm evening as opposed to a frosty one). No matter though because the listener/viewer will soon become immersed in the gentle flow of velvet sonic and pastoral scenes. Not quite a successor to ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ but cut from the same cloth all the same. And radio friendly to boot, a soft breeze of gentle dynamics.    

Alex Gordon submitted media.

LAUGHING by !A!

Kevin Hugger

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.     

Mike Fullarton submitted media.

In My Arms by The Breathing Room

Kevin Hugger

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. 

PUZZLE submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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.

Ralina PR submitted media.

I Saw Momma by Emii

Kevin Hugger

It’s not quite a brave move to cover a tried and tested Christmas standard because recognition is half the battle, at Christmas it is probably a little bit more in fact. So EMII is to be commended for adding a genuine contemporary twist to a song that the Jackson 5 perpetually own each December. And suddenly I realised that ‘I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus’ is probably in fact a completely tune altogether, a song with vim and plenty of dash to kickstart any holiday gathering. There is a country twang to EMII’s presentation but I’m suitably impressed to return to her song at a later stage this Christmas. Well done to her for not throwing out the old but instead ushering in the shiny, bright and new. 

Bo Haan submitted media.

Undefined by Bo Haan

Kevin Hugger

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 music submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Silvia Nikoletti submitted media.

Loving You (Official Video) by Celeste Buckingham

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Holly Drummond submitted media.

The Edge by Holly Drummond

Kevin Hugger

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.     

Shaun Hettinger submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

‘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.

Roly L submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Michael Ige submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

There is a huge market for nostalgia and Uncle Tadashi & Da Boyz seem primed to corner it on their sweet ‘My Old Stompin' Ground’. This is something for the stereo at reunions or journey’s back home and it is inevitable that listeners will well up such is the tenderness in the memories that are evoked. The soft acoustics, layered harmonies as well as a vocalist who proffers gentle cooing means that ‘My Old Stompin' Ground’ is irresistible. With a bit of marketing and getting into the right ears it could yet start making its own memories.  

Jan Ciganik submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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.  

Ben Whitfield submitted media.

Good Feeling by Benjimanji

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Darren Vincent submitted media.

Next Train Home by yaya club

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Darren Vincent submitted media.

Snakes And Ladders by yaya club

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Darren Vincent submitted media.

Down At The Bottom by yaya club

Kevin Hugger

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.  

Dan Sanford submitted media.

The Color Watch by Head to Head

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Jacob Sherman submitted media.

Shotgun Shells by Jake Knox

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Campbelltown Music submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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.   

Kolby Knickerbocker submitted media.

No Words To Describe by Rodello's Machine

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Andrew Tomlinson submitted media.

The Only Girl You Know by Goodnight

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Vincent Sinex submitted media.

Overboard by The Late Innings

Kevin Hugger

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.    

Kolby Knickerbocker submitted media.

Red Dust by Rodello's Machine

Kevin Hugger

‘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.  

Audrey Assad submitted media.

Arrow by LEVV

Kevin Hugger

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.    

Lizzie Karr submitted media.

YOUR NUMBER (Official Music Video) by Lizzie Karr ft. Pete Feliciano

Kevin Hugger

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.

Haiganoush Music submitted media.

Step In by Richard Melkonian and Veronica Melkonian

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Lizzie Karr submitted media.

ASPHYXIATE (Official Video) by Colour Theory

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Victor Gómez Uralde submitted media.

Oratorio de los últimos tiempos by Victor Manuel Gómez Uralde

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Scott Meadows submitted media.

Loose by Forever

Kevin Hugger

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.

Drew Forsberg submitted media.

Dottie, Queen of the West by The Persian Leaps

Kevin Hugger

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.     

Olan Mijana submitted media.

Men in the Trenches by Monoculture

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Charles Bay submitted media.

Sell Phone by Head Exploder

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Shaun Hettinger submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Starar Official submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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.   

Mary Erangey submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Sleep Status submitted media.

Snaphu by Sleep Status

Kevin Hugger

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.

Sam Strawbridge submitted media.

The End of the World With You by Sam Strawbridge

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Paul Mattis submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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. 

Stefan Aronsson submitted media.

Kevin Hugger

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.

Liam Dunning submitted media.

Take It Back by Gold Jacks

Kevin Hugger

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.