Top Tracks: Sun K – High In The City

Sat here on a bitterly cold night in January, snuggling close to a hot water bottle to try to keep the chills at bay, ‘High In The City’ is just the song I needed. A song to remind me that the summer sun, and the carefree adventures it brings, aren’t all that far away, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Canadian band Sun K have loaded this track with gritty vocals and vintage guitar tones in this superb slice of old-school no-nonsense rock’n’roll. The band aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but then again if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Wheels are very much still in use and that classic rock sound is just as potent as it ever was. Everything about this song, from the throwback vibes to the nostalgic visuals, aims to recall the summers of the past. But there’s something inexplicable about it that makes me want to go out, have adventures and make new memories… when the weather warms up that is.

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Top Tracks: Marlene Oak – Come Home

I’ve never heard another voice quite like this. In Swedish singer/songwriter Marlene Oak I can hear hints of Jeff Buckley, a fair bit of Dolores O’Riordan, and a whole heap of old school soul, all blending together into a pretty unique concoction. Vocals that are equal parts forceful and fragile, which end up being the perfect match for a song like ‘Come Home’. Taken from her upcoming EP Silver Moon, out 15th February, it’s a track all about finding your soulmate. Finding an all-encompassing love that fills an empty space inside that you perhaps never even knew was there. A love so deep feels much like Marlene’s vocals on this track. Something so powerful that it consumes your entire being, that you forget all else exists, and yet in turn leaving you so open and vulnerable, quivering on the edge of breaking point. They say that love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting them not to, and Marlene imbues that same raw emotion into this song.

Spotlight!: MAVICA

mavicaOne of the things that makes a good album is when it feels like a collection of songs that belong together. They each serve a purpose and come together to tell a story or take a snapshot of a certain space and time. It’s rare that you get this with EPs, they are usually just a few singles thrown together, which is one of the reasons that MAVICA’s debut EP stood out. Gone, while not expressly telling the story of the singer/songwriter moving to London from her hometown in Spain, does a great job at capturing the feeling of leaving your life behind. ‘Friethers’ is sure to resonate with anyone feeling lost and alone, and boasts the record’s most expressive percussion and synth work, while the melancholic guitar and wistful vocals of ‘Fire’ recalls a mix of Snail Mail and Isaac Gracie. ‘Plastic Heart’ is MAVICA’s most overtly pop affair with a fabulous hook that will stay with you all day, while ‘To Lie Alone’ is the record’s most complete package. Its soothing folk drifts by like a summer breeze, building to a powerful emotional climax, before settling back to where it began. It’s like watching the sunrise when the whole world is still, then having the day rush by in front of your eyes, only to watch the sun set again as the calm returns.

Fans of Ben Howard, Sufjan Stevens, Sophie Morgan and Billie Marten should check out MAVICA’s debut EP Gone

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Yesterday

Up and coming singer/songwriter Natalie Shay was one of the new acts that impressed us most last year, and she’s already making waves in 2019 with her new single ‘Yesterday’. The addictive indie pop offering shows another new facet to her talents and features her best vocals and most infectious hooks to date. All about moving on from a one-sided relationship, and falling for someone who was never as committed as you, the track does a great job of wrapping up its honest and meaningful lyricism in an impeccable pop sheen. It’s the kind of song where you can draw what you want from it. Whether you’re looking for a break-up anthem or a new bop to get you up and dancing, it just depends on what mood you’re in. It varies from listen to listen, but you’ll have plenty of chance to explore both sides as I guarantee you’ll have it on repeat.

Spotlight!: Guns For Gold

guns for gold- duo shotAny music fan will tell you that nothing compares to the feeling of hearing a song that just stops you in your tracks. Being so enthralled by a piece of music that your only thought is “what is this and where can I find more?”. That was the process I went through upon hearing the debut single from New York duo Guns For Gold, and I get the feeling their debut EP will evoke the same reaction from many more people. Electronic producer Alex Siesse and singer/songwriter Wes Hutchinson may have once been a part of very different musical circles, but you would never have guessed so from the way that all the different elements fit together perfectly like the cogs of some grand golden machine. ‘Loaded’ lurks within an understated ambience and periodically bursts forth with its triumphant chorus, before disappearing back beneath the surface to leave calm waters once more. ‘So Natural’ offers up some great piano driven pop melodies, while mixing things up with some interesting percussion. And of course the slow-burning powerhouse that is ‘Unravelled‘, which found its way into our top songs of 2018, rounds out the record in style.

Fans of The National, Daughter and Manchester Orchestra should check out the eponymous debut EP from Guns For Gold out 1st March.

Top Tracks: Andrew Leahey – Airwaves

Americana and nostalgia are always a winning combination, you need look no further than this track for proof. ‘Airwaves’ is a layered love letter to the days when radio ruled the world, the days when the M in MTV stood for music and not miscellaneous. It’s a celebration of the sounds that became an important foundation for so many people growing up, and a sad reflection on how future generations will never know what they’re missing out on. More than that, it’s a view into a more personal connection with the music. Singer/songwriter Andrew Leahey underwent an operation that risked not only his hearing, but his life. An experience like that is sure to make someone appreciate the little things in life all the more, like hearing a song on the radio that just awakens something inside you. ‘Airwaves’ is a message: take it from someone in the know, seize the day and cherish the music that made you.

Top Tracks: Distant Days – Wrap Your Arms Around The Light

The latest track from Swedish band Distant Days plays like a nights sleep. Its softer moments drift by like a dream, notes falling soft like snowflakes in the magical winters you remember from your youth. The sweeping strings and gorgeous piano offer such a comforting atmosphere, like the song is an old lullaby half remembered from childhood. In the darker moments however the song takes a more sinister turn, as the dream shifts into more nightmarish territory. It offers an unsettling edge which keeps you guessing as you wait for the sweetness to return, and it just makes it feel all the more rewarding when it does. There’s just something heartwarmingly familiar about this song as a whole that I can’t quite put my finger on. ‘Wrap Your Arms Around The Light’ may wear its influences on its sleeve, recalling the likes of Nick Cave, Lou Reed and David Bowie, but it wears them well and does them justice.

Spotlight!: Cathedral Bells

cathedral bells

Photo by Stephen Marva

One of the biggest draws of indie music is the DIY element of it. The fact that someone spent hours just experimenting with sound, embracing a creative drive to try new things, just completely absorbed by their own love of music. That same inquisitive and inventive side is self-evident within a matter of seconds when listening to the debut EP from Cathedral Bells. What is less obvious is the fact that what you are hearing is nearly all the work of one man. The playful bass line of ‘A Passing Phase’, the quirky throwback synths of ‘Homebody’, the airy haze of ‘Ethereal Shadow’, the brooding post punk vibes of ‘Memory Loss’. All of these tracks, which pull influences from across various decades into an amalgamation that’s entirely its own creation, they were all made at home, built up piece by piece. You don’t need to venture much further than the opening track ‘Cemetery Surf’ and the way it packs so much content into less than two minutes to see that Cathedral Bells is a project that pushes our expectations of what just one man can do. Blending dream pop, synthpop and post punk, this is a release that will tick plenty of boxes for indie fans looking for new music to get excited about.

Fans of The Cure, The War On Drugs, The Smiths and The Paper Kites should check out Cathedral Bells’ eponymous EP out 1st February.

The Pros and Cons of Spotify

spotify-logoWe’re starting off the new year with something a little different. Welcome to the first in a series of articles where we take a look at major music tools and social platforms, from the perspective of both artists and music fans, and think about where they excel and where they need to improve. Obviously our first port of call is the music titan that is Spotify. It has become synonymous with streaming the same way Google has with search engines, and has changed the music industry forever, but is it for better or worse? Continue reading