Sometimes it can be very difficult to review a track and articulate your thoughts. This is one of those occasions, for the simple reason that everything comes together so perfectly on ‘Passing Through’ that it becomes impossible to pick out particular reasons for loving it. I could go on about the way it builds from warm emotive folk into straight anthemic Americana, or the way it instills both a sense of wanderlust and a need to cling on to a love that’s fading, or the way the light and airy vocals dance atop the gorgeous instrumental atmosphere. With all of these statements however I’d feel like I was still doing the song a disservice, and missing out some other element that makes it great. Scottish singer/songwriter Tommy Ashby has nailed it with this track, plain and simple. See you in the ‘best of the year’ lists.
Side projects are a rare and curious delight. They often portray artists in a new light, showing their versatility as songwriters and giving a fresh glimpse into the person behind the music. Jaws of Love, the new project from Kelcey Ayer of Local Natives fame, has already produced some of the most heartwarming music I’ve heard this year. The exemplary folk of ‘Love Me Like I’m Gone’, with its gentle guitar, subtle cascading piano and Kelcey’s exquisite vocals, is perfect for fans of Ben Howard and early Bon Iver. Taken from the upcoming album Tasha Sits Close to the Piano, out 22nd September, it’s a superbly elegant and refined track, the kind that speaks to something within the quiet recesses of your soul. There’s no end of new folk music out there, so to say that this is one of the finest folk songs of the year should leave you in no doubt that Kelcey is on to something special.
I don’t know if androids really do dream of electric sheep, but I know a catchy indie pop hit when I hear one. Combining chilled out guitar grooves and hints of 60s psychedelica, ‘Blade Runner’ is equal parts dreamy and danceable. Party by name, party by nature; this song keeps you coming back for more and gets you grooving a little more with each new listen. This immaculately produced track is a far cry from main man Ken Franklin’s humble origins working away in a secret little recording booth hidden away beneath the stairs. It’s a perfect playlist addition ready to soundtrack the rest of your summer, and should tide you over until Dutch Party release their new EP Combat Pop later this year.
No matter how diverse your tastes are, we all still tend to gravitate to a couple of preferred genres. Sometimes though life just throws a curveball at you, offering something different wherein you simply can’t help but sit up and pay attention. LA based multi-instrumentalist Julian Borrego is a perfect example. His single ‘Small Talk’, taken from his debut EP Ouroboros, brings together soul, funk and psychedelic rock all into one vibrant melting pot of a track. Equal parts surreal and seductive, it combines an expansive soundscape with some infectious bass lines and dancefloor ready grooves. Whatever your tastes, this might be just the unexpected treat you need to inject a bit of much-needed colour into your day.
Though they probably have the least rock’n’roll origin story that I’ve ever heard, having all met via Craigslist, this LA based quartet prove that great music can come from the most humble of origins. With their latest EP Dichotomy, Midnight Divide prove to be a multifaceted marvel dabbling in a diverse range of influences. The mellow intro of ‘Fireline’ has the feel of some children’s music box before building into a fantastic melody driven hit. ‘Animal Eyes’ sees the band following a harder alt rock path, with frontman Austen Moret’s vocals in places reminding me of Franklin James Fisher from Belwood favourites Algiers. ‘Talking’ is a classic cut of bright indie rock, while the restless ‘Ketamine’ begins with a short section reminiscent of ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus, and displays some curious reggae influences in the latter half. while somehow linking it all together seamlessly. Any band that aims to blur the lines between genres with such reckless abandon gets a big tick in my book. With songs of this standard Midnight Divide have my utmost respect and my undivided attention, and I recommend you offer them the same.
Fans of Algiers, Everything Everything, Amber Run and Yeasayer should check out their new EP Dichotomy.
Synthpop is very much the ‘in’ thing right now, and as such it can be hard for a new band to stand out from the crowd. This is no problem at all however for LA based duo Moxi. Rather than pursue the traditional shimmering synthpop sound, their latest single ‘Paclew’ brings plenty of dark and sinister undertones to the table. Moxi feel ahead of the game with this track; their brand of menacing pop sounds like it’ll be the next big thing, or if not then it certainly should be. It’s one of those songs that you feel must be a global, chart-topping hit in some parallel universe. With their new EP Figures Bathed in Light out 18th August, here’s hoping for more of the same enticing trendsetting sound.
Chris Blackwood – Chris Blackwood
To say that this year’s festival season has been a bit of a shambles would be a massive understatement. That’s like saying the Sahara Desert is “a bit warm”. Between Y Not being totally unprepared for rain (i.e. a normal British summer) to Hope and Glory being several thousand over capacity, it’s been one hell of a year for shamefully poor organisation… and the less said about the horror show that is Fyre Festival the better. All of them cut corners when it came to security and facilities, all of them showed utter disregard for their patron’s safety, enjoyment and well-being. Anyone who has been to a half decent festival will know that all these problems are easily avoided. Continue reading
There’s something special about a great gritty voice. It’s the sound of a misspent youth, of someone with wisdom beyond their years. The sound of a hard life on the road, living on just dust and whisky. Find someone with a voice like that and you can imbue a song with tremendous power, just as London based band Up Down Go Machine have done with their new single. The heavy folk stomp of ‘Gambler’ weaves a tale of a man who has lost his way, fighting a losing battle against his inner demons. Perfect for fans of Ray LaMontagne, Kaleo and Dan Owen, this epic slice of Americana sounds like it belongs as the soundtrack for some thrilling climax in the next series of Westworld. This is the kind of band that every idealistic vagabond needs in their life.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface