Top Tracks: Phosphene – Spiral

Now more than ever we all need an escape. Here we are, all going stir crazy stuck behind four walls while the world outside is scary, uncertain, and eerily quiet. Now seems like the perfect time for the kind of song that whisks you away to better places and happier times. It feels like an age has passed since we last wrote about Portland based dream pop outfit Phosphene, but they have returned when we need them most with a brand new single. Fittingly ‘Spiral’, taken from the band’s forthcoming album Lotus Eaters, is a track all about seeking solace and peace during hard times. If you find yourself searching for the same such respite then then there’s certainly no shortage of it to be found on this latest release. The bright melodies, hazy synths and airy indie riffs make ‘Spiral’ a song to be cherished, the kind that feels like the comforting embrace of the sun breaking through the clouds or the first flowers of spring blooming to bring some colour to a dreary grey world. When everything around you is on a downward spiral, sometimes one song is all it takes to help turn things around and send your spirits spiralling skyward.

Top Tracks: Samantha Lindo – Underside

We all have a part of ourselves that we conceal from the world. Outwardly we portray our best self. We try to show the world that we lead a happy life, that we’re confident and beautiful, that we leap from one success to another. In this image conscious age in which we find ourselves, we push ourselves to maintain this perfect veneer in order to hide what lies underneath. Beneath the facade most people are battling just to keep their head above the water. Whether it’s stressing about everyday struggles, worrying about what the future holds, being haunted by past trauma, feeling scared or alone or unworthy, and trying their best to bottle up that raging storm. ‘Underside’ is a track that reminds us that it’s okay to let the mask slip from time to time. That by letting someone else in to see what we hide away we can share the burden and hold each other up. Bristol based artist Samantha Lindo’s soulful vocals, articulate words of encouragement, and slick yet understated jazz arrangements offer just the kind of loving warmth and reassurance that world needs more of.

Top Tracks: Sophie Morgan – Bar to Bar

A common piece of advice for writers is that you should write what you know. The same applies to songwriters; when you create music that tells the tale of your life, about the experiences that shaped you, it can make a world of difference. There’s a certain electricity in the air when you can tell an artist has poured their heart into a song and has crafted something very human and relatable. That feeling is perfectly encapsulated in Belwood favourite Sophie Morgan’s latest offering ‘Bar to Bar’, which tells her story of starting out in music, writing songs, gigging across town, and falling in and out of love along the way. While most songs about life on the road tend to glamorise playing to massive crowds or a life of excess behind the scenes, it’s so refreshing to hear a humble depiction of a musical journey just beginning and the loves and losses that come with it. Especially when it shares the same wistful poeticism and gorgeous honeyed vocals that left us so enamoured with Sophie’s last release. If this track from her latest EP Marmalade (out 20th March) is anything to go by, then the humble origins shared in ‘Bar to Bar’ were just the first step along the road to great things.

The Undermining of Modern Protest Music

climate sign outside blur

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Music has a lot of power over us. It can bring us to tears, help us fall in love, comfort us when we’re at the end of our rope, and make us feel like we’re on top of the world. Though we all connect with music on a personal level, in the wider scheme it can also bring people together and unite them behind a common cause. In these ways a song can become the voice of a generation, a call to arms against injustice, an inspirational voice for positive change. There’s certainly no shortage of causes for artists to rally around, especially given the current state of the world. We have the abhorrent rise of far-right ideologies, the ever growing division caused by racism and xenophobia, the worst wealth inequality the world has ever seen with the richest getting richer and the poor dying needlessly, and of course the looming threat of an ongoing climate crisis. There’s enough ammunition there to spark a golden age of protest music… so why does it feel like protest music has lost its bite? Continue reading

Top Tracks: The Satellite Station – Phantom

Everyone that we meet who we welcome into our lives leaves their mark on us in some way. Some small trace of them lives in us, and we come across little reminders of them as we go about our lives. Perhaps it’s hearing their favourite song, or visiting a place you spent a lot of time together. For those closest to us, the ones we give our heart to, even the most slight of stimuli can bring them to mind, like the faintest of scents drifting by on the breeze or the soft touch of another’s hand against yours. When you lose someone you love, be it through a break-up or them passing away, you begin to feel the marks they left everywhere you turn. The suitably haunting ‘Phantom’, from singer/songwriter Travis Rue under his moniker The Satellite Station, details what it is like to be living in the shadow of someone’s memory. Having so many things that remind you of them that it feels like they never left. Trying to move on when there are reminders all around you, but at the same time not wanting to escape by forgetting them entirely. This sparse and elegant number is one that you can really empathise with, and it will live on in your memory for all the right reasons.

Top Tracks: Limón Limón – Normal Now

A huge part of who we are is determined by what we want other people to think of us. We all wear a mask to blend in with the crowd to some degree; it’s human nature, we’re sociable creatures and we want to belong, to feel like part of the group. To that end we don’t try to be exceptional, we don’t let our unique character shine through as much as we should, instead we end up striving to be average. We keep our heads down and conform, we live our lives guided by society’s standards and try to keep up with the latest trends. This new track from indie duo Limón Limón rejects the notion of normality and acts as a celebration of individuality. The hazy synths, understated groove, and light and airy riffs make ‘Normal Now’, with its vintage 80s vibes, feel like a splash of vibrant colour in an otherwise bland and beige world. It’s a track that we find happiness within ourselves, not from the approval of others. 

Spotlight!: Simon Alexander

simon alexanderA lot changes in a year. We take it in our stride as we’re so focused on the day to day, but if you really think about it you can look at your life from one season to the next and the contrast can be so stark that it’s almost like different people living in different worlds. The summers so lush and full of life that we welcome their warmth with open arms, cast our worries aside, and jam to music that’s bright and boisterous; the winters stark, sombre and unforgiving so that we retreat inside to escape the cold, and our thoughts too turn inward as we cling to music that is quiet and introspective. Each season a disparate chapter of a long and winding story, each passing year holding something new and leaving its mark on you.

Swedish singer/songwriter Simon Alexander embodies this idea in his new EP In The Rust. Lyrically the release often reflects on the passage of time, taking a nostalgic look back at years gone by through rose tinted glasses, and apprehensively pondering what fresh changes and challenges the years ahead have in store. Musically the four songs contained here are as rich and varied as the seasons. ‘Move Steady’ is an uplifting indie anthem packed to the brim with bright melodies, and the title track delights with its rustic folk arrangement and gorgeous harmonies. The smooth and joyous rhythm & blues of ‘Good Friends’ is just what the doctor ordered to banish the winter blues, and the soulful slow-burning closing track ‘Rain’ has some sublime guitar work and showcases Simon’s vocals at their very best. These four tracks really show just how wide-ranging his talents are, and I look forward to hearing what fresh delights he has in store further down the line.

Fans of Hozier, Gavin James, Ben Howard and Wilder Mind era Mumford & Sons should check out Simon’s new EP In The Rust out now.