Top Tracks: Leon + the Fantastic – Grieving Friend of a Superman

Right from the off ‘Grieving Friend of a Superman’ offers hints of Bowie’s Blackstar. From the world-weary vocals and cryptic lyrics, to the retro synths and bizarre little nuances, this track from Leon’s forthcoming EP Let Me Cool (out 18th May) deals equally in both the foreign and the familiar. Odd enough to feel exciting and new, but maintaining convention just enough to keep you feeling at home in your new surreal surroundings. The stop motion video for the song, featuring an astronaut losing his grip on reality and suffering hallucinations in deep space, is one of the most fascinating videos of recent years. The real star of the show however is the captivating drum work, constantly pulling you in deeper and feeling like the lead instrument in a way that few acts ever manage to. “Fantastic” is a hard moniker to live up to, but on this track Leon and the band pull it off.

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Top Tracks: The People The Poet – Kids on the Corner

Music can do a lot of wonderful things, and sometimes, by either a personal connection to some cherished memory or by wonderfully woven nostalgic lyricism, a song can take you back to simpler times. Such is the case with this new track from Welsh band The People The Poet, taken from their new album A Short Obsession With Time. Even if your childhood bears little resemblance to the misspent youth described in ‘Kids on the Corner’, its hard not to feel some kind of affinity with the sentiment: a longing to go back to those carefree days when the world seemed limitless and all your thoughts and feelings burned their brightest. This journey back to “the good old days” is one you will make time and again, as the emphatic drums, gorgeous piano coda and gritty vocals reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams make this a song you will keep coming back to for a good long while.

Top Tracks: RIVVRS – Let It Die

Mark my words, listening to just this one track is all you need to be completely sold on RIVVRS. Pressing play on ‘Let It Die’, the latest single from forthcoming album Cosmic Dream, is like a tall dark stranger walking into town in the wild west, with an air of mystique and the road-hardened stare of a man who’s seen too much. A track about knowing when to cut loose those who are dragging you down, and not dwelling on those who messed you around whom you’d be better off without, ‘Let It Die’ shares its potent and relatable message with such superb charm and character. With its heavy stomp, understated bluesy riffs, and those suave gritty vocals, this new song from Californian native Brandon Zahursky is a timeless slice of Americana that is not to be missed.

Spotlight!: Andy Cook

andy cook“What’s a man, anyway?” The question posed, and in some ways answered, by the new release from Minneapolis-based artist Andy Cook. Steeped in all the heartwarming hallmarks of classic Americana, and adorned with hints of 60s psychedelica and 90s dream pop, the EP provides an attentive yet accessible look into the human condition. It’s easy to make music about the dark underbelly of our new digital world and how it divides us, it’s much harder to look past all those distractions and focus on the things that we have in common and make us who we are; here, Cook manages both. The wanderlust inducing ‘Swirl’ whirls by like a summer breeze, ‘Red Lights’ boasts bright riffs and expressive drums, while the melancholy verses of ‘Run’ remind me of Isaac Gracie. The lumbering, other-worldly bass tones of ‘Nothing Changes’ really stand out, while the soft beat and soothing steel guitar of ‘Places We’ll Go’ just makes you want to lie back and watch the world roll by. With this new release you can either delve into the meaning behind it all, or retreat into yourself, the choice is yours.

Fans of The War On Drugs, Angel Olsen and Kurt Vile should check out Andy Cook’s new EP Modern Man out 13th April.

Top Tracks: Augustus James – The Hardest Part

Some genres are perfectly suited to a certain mood, but personally I see Americana as an erstwhile companion that’s always welcome whatever the occasion. Certainly a track such as ‘The Hardest Part’, taken from Augustus James’ debut EP Nora, would be equally at home while cruising down an open road with the sun streaming down, or while watching the rain against the window while you ponder your place in the world. While carrying all the beloved Americana hallmarks we’ve come to expect, the warm understated brass and soothing harmonies make this new track stand out from the crowd. ‘The Hardest Part’ is the kind of track that you can make memories to and can consider to be more than just music, but a lifelong friend.