Top Tracks: Skip Curtis – Wild Love

The debut single from Welsh singer/songwriter Skip Curtis is imbued with the spirit of adventure. ‘Wild Love’ is the kind of track that makes you want to shed all your responsibilities, leave your fears and insecurities behind, and just take off running. There’s an energy to it that compels you to keep seeking the next horizon in the hope that there’s a better place awaiting you on the other side. As much as the song calls out to you to get away from everything that’s holding you back, it manages to provide its own escape with its driving bass, emphatic chorus and infectious energy. ‘Wild Love’ whisks you away and reminds you that you can’t let a particular place or person to define who you are, sometimes you just have to take the plunge into the unknown and see where it leads.

Advertisements

Top Tracks: Averly – Patient

Belwood favourite Jonny Carroll has teamed up with producer extraordinaire Jon Class for new indie pop project Averly. It’s always rewarding to hear an artist you know exploring new ground and experimenting with new ideas, and there’s no better way to do that than collaborating with another artist. This duo has brought two different worlds together and each side injects their own ideas and idiosyncrasies into their debut single ‘Patient’. Detailing that familiar disheartening frustration when you feel as though you’re not making as much progress towards your personal goals as you’d hoped, ‘Patient’ dances with shimmering melodies. It’s rooted in an organic indie sound, occasionally reminiscent of Manchester Orchestra, albeit cloaked in an air of electropop that knows all the right buttons to push. It delivers all it promises and more, and certainly marks an assured first step for this new partnership.

Top Tracks: Opia Bloom – Side By Side

The spectacular new single from Brighton based rockers Opia Bloom (fka YOUTH) is an indie fan’s dream come true. ‘Side by Side’ boasts bombastic drums, soaring riffs, the nostalgic fuzz of super 8 film, and the kind of anthemic chorus that you’ll spend half the summer belting out at the top of your lungs. Even though this track veers pretty close to perfection, the same isn’t true of lot of things in life, like the kind of rollercoaster relationship that the song describes. When you both seem to find yourselves clashing with each other, a constant push and pull where you’re as much enemies as lovers, but despite it all you’d be lost without them by your side. Even in the depths of winter I can say with some confidence that this will be the soundtrack of my summer next year.

Top Tracks: Janet Devlin – I Lied To You

It feels like such a long time since we last heard new music from Janet Devlin, but this new single is worth the wait. With its breathy vocals, elegant strings and confessional lyrics, ‘I Lied To You’ is perhaps her most intimate and heartfelt work to date. In this image centred world we find ourselves in, where we constantly try to maintain the illusion that our lives are perfect, it’s hard to admit when things are wrong or when you’ve made a mistake. Doubly so when you find yourself in the spotlight. It’s an admirably open and honest track, though it’s the kind of song that people can attach their own meaning and importance to. With this taste of her upcoming album, I’m excited to see what else Janet has in store for 2019.

Top Tracks: Michael Jablonka – Papier-mâché

It’s not often that we get to gush about guitar solos anymore. Whether they’ve fallen out of favour, or it’s just harder to play a solo that really stands out as exceptional, whatever the reason it’s become an increasingly overlooked art form. Artists need look no further than the latest single from London’s Michael Jablonka for an example of how to truly shine. Equal parts Michael Kiwanuka and The Black Keys, ‘Papier-mâché’ features one of the best solos I’ve heard since starting Belwood. It caterwauls through the centre of the track, whirling at an unrelenting pace towards its eventual crash into the calm interlude that follows. It’s the musical equivalent of being strapped to fireworks and sent spiralling into the stratosphere at breakneck speed. Then, just as you feel like you can’t take the g-forces tearing at you any longer, you emerge above the clouds and become transfixed by the empyrean scene before you.

Spotlight!: Cocoa Futures

cocoa futuresIn trying to be cool you just succeed in getting further away from it. Some of the coolest people I’ve met probably have no idea that they’re cool. It’s not about copying someone else’s example, it’s about soaking up their influence and doing it your way. It’s not about trying to tick boxes, you just need to be confident about doing your own thing. London’s Cocoa Futures do just that with their latest EP Recovery. There are plenty of elements within that capture the zeitgeist of the indie and pop scenes in recent years, but at no point does it feel forced or insincere in doing so. The effervescent bass line and punchy percussion of ‘Sink In The Water’ cuts through the otherwise downcast feel of the synth and vocals, like the one person content to stroll along and admire the city lights on a rainy night when everyone else is rushing around with their head down. The demented funk of the title track is reminiscent of St Vincent at her best and feels like a glimpse into an alternate reality where disco still rules supreme. Closing track Big Time starts with a stripped back indie pop feel before a slick solo cuts through the calm to end the record on a high.

Fans of James Vincent McMorrow, Rationale and St Vincent should check out Cocoa Futures’ new EP Recovery.

Top Tracks: Finn Andrews – A Shot Through The Heart (Then Down In Flames)

When you think of The Veils your mind probably goes to the bewitchingly dark and gritty sound that they’re best known for. The kind of songs that feel like they should be the soundtrack to all the devil’s future deals at the crossroads. It’s odd then that this live offering from frontman Finn Andrews draws you in for being just the opposite. ‘A Shot Through The Heart’, taken from his forthcoming debut solo album One Piece At A Time out 22nd March, is wonderfully refined and  elegant with its lush piano and heartwarming swell of strings. Despite its less than cheerful lyrics, the simply sublime score that accompanies them, along with Finn’s smooth and soothing vocals, feels supremely uplifting. All it takes is one listen and you’ll be humming the tune as you waltz about your day.

In Defence of One Hit Wonders

black smartphone and headphones on a desk

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

There are few things in music that are looked down on as much as One Hit Wonders. This idea that people can suddenly be thrust into the spotlight with an otherwise unassuming song, revel in their fifteen minutes of fame, and then descend back into obscurity never to be heard from again. It’s a perennial industry punchline. A scary story that artists tell each other: “work hard or else you might end up like them!”. When most people think of One Hit Wonders their mind goes to silly guilty pleasure tracks, but they have so much more to offer. Continue reading