Top Tracks: Steve Rondo – Afternoon Rebellion

It’s startling to think that we’re just a few months away from 2022 when most of us are still trying to process 2020. The days just seem to race by like grains of sand slipping between your fingers, and with each passing year seem to flow faster and faster. But by the time you realise just how caught you are within the relentless swirl of the hourglass, it’s already too late. With his new single ‘Afternoon Rebellion’, Boston based songwriter and producer Steve Rondo shares the fear and frustration that comes with wanting to stay awhile longer in each fleeting moment. It’s something that effects us all eventually, and is a phenomenon that has left its mark on many songs over the years, but on this track Steve really captures the anxiety that comes with looking too hard in either direction. Looking forward you realise all those dreary days spent wishing for the weekend have finally caught up with you. All those lingering fears of what the future holds that you pushed aside, those bridges that you left to cross some other day, those milestones that seemed like some distant dream – all now loom large and unavoidable in the path ahead of you. Looking back you catch a glimpse of each cherished memory, before it too falls from your grasp to become just another grain buried by all the days wasted, much as the song’s haunting delicate folk intro becomes eclipsed by the ever-growing arrangement to leave you lost in something both grand and bittersweet.

Spotlight!: Jenny Kern

At this point it’s become easy to take these last couple of years for granted. We resign ourselves to keeping busy and trying to maintain routines without stopping to take stock of just how much strain we’ve been under. All the cracks in our psyche that have deepened, and the fresh ones that have formed, thanks to all the isolation and uncertainty. It becomes this scared little whisper in the void that we ourselves refuse to even acknowledge, never mind share with others. With her debut EP I Never Thought That You Were Listening, Canadian born singer/songwriter Jenny Kern superbly expresses the sense of solitude and deafening silence that we’ve all been facing; capturing the zeitgeist of the new normal and the lessons we can take forward from it. What’s more this Belwood favourite adorns her introspection with such cinematic synthscapes and mesmerising melodies. Evoking the eerie glow of city streets in the still of night, it paints the perfect expanse for Jenny’s poignant musings to echo against. Continue reading

Spotlight!: The Greatest Endangered Thing

It’s rare to get a second chance at a first impression. In part because it’s equally rare for us to get a break from the hectic humdrum of modern life to afford us a moment for reflection and reinvention. But then again, it’s not every day that the whole world grinds to a halt, and offers up an unparalleled opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. It was an opportunity that transatlantic duo Samuel Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave seized to the fullest, and in doing so found the missing piece, the essential capstone, for their latest musical endeavour. Embracing life in the slow lane while recording in the Peak District village of Tideswell, the pair developed a deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature around them, as well as for the profound power of human connections and the joy of collaboration. All the things that we all too often take for granted came into focus, and in doing so informed and inspired what would become their debut EP And You, And Me. Continue reading

Top Tracks: mehro – howling

A lone wolf will howl up at the moon, its cries carrying for miles across dense forests, mountain peaks and frigid open tundra, in the hope of reaching those it cares about. Their bonds are so strong that distance doesn’t matter; when they need each other they will call out. It’s a beautiful notion, and one that we could stand to learn from, as when we feel at our most alone is usually when we fall quiet. There’s no calling out into the night, often not even a quick message, instead opting to suffer in silence. With his new single, mehro offers a glimpse into that sense of isolation. The restless nights, the tempestuous thoughts, the feeling of missing someone so much that you’re left treading water with no respite in sight. And yet, as everything comes crumbling down and your head sinks beneath the surface, you still can’t find the strength to say “I need you”. With its soft wistful folk arrangement, cold subtle electronics, and mehro’s own plaintive cries harmonising with haunting wolf howls, this stunning single offers some comfort in knowing we’re not alone in feeling alone.

Top Tracks: Rett Madison – Skeptic’s Angels

No one is born bitter and jaded. When we first experience the world we do so with a steadfast sense of wonder. We see the best in ourselves and others, refuse to be divided down arbitrary lines, find joy in even the smallest things, and live our lives believing that anything is possible. And yet, little by little, the innocence and optimism in all of us gets eroded. Often the cracks form so slowly that you don’t even realise it, until one day your inner cynic becomes the dominant voice – you begin to see the worst in everything, and ultimately ask yourself “When did I first take for granted, Another sunset on this twisted planet?“. It’s as inevitable as the rising tide, but that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it without a fight. With the soulful ‘Skeptic’s Angels’, singer/songwriter Rett Madison offers a poignant moment of mourning for her own faith and innocence lost and asks the question “is it too late to believe?“. Taken from her debut album Pin-up Daddy, it’s another fine example of the fine balance between fire and fragility that is walked by her astonishing vocals. For many of us it gets harder with every passing day to believe in something greater and have faith in the good in others, but sometimes we all need to take a leap of faith to keep the light shining just a little longer.

Top Tracks: The Greatest Endangered Thing – Bramble Lane

There are plenty of wonderfully emotive songs out there which perfectly capture a feeling, like joy, or love, or heartbreak, and lots of tracks that evoke a certain point in time, expressing the mood of certain seasons or reminiscent of past decades. But one less heard and underappreciated facets of songwriting that holds a place in my heart is the kind of song that manages to embody the spirit and character of a certain place. Music that echoes the symphony of nature, lyrics that can vividly describe a stunning vista, songs which offer an escape by whisking you away someplace else. The latest single from The Greatest Endangered Thing is perhaps the finest example I’ve heard all year. Paired beautifully with some stunning cinematography from filmmaker Brett Chapman, ‘Bramble Lane’ plays as an evocative love letter to the Peak District. There’s a haunting mystique that conjures up the feel of misty moorlands and dark gnarled woods; ancient and unchanging like something from a long forgotten legend. Yet there’s also an air of romanticism that calls to mind the morning sun rising over heather-clad hills, that evokes birdsong and bright clear skies, and brings with it that same sense of freedom and sanctuary that comes with being off the beaten path.