Live Review: Árstíðir, Rebellion Manchester, 25th Jan 2019

arstidir mancGenerally the start of a new year is a time for looking forward, but I thought it would be an equally good time to momentarily look back. Surely there’s no better way to spend my first gig of 2019 than checking out the band behind one of the best releases of 2018. We stumbled across Icelandic indie folk outfit Árstíðir shortly after they released their latest record Nivalis. It impressed us so much that it snuck its way into our end of year list, and also ensured that I would be in attendance for one of their UK dates. Continue reading


Top Tracks: Astralingua – Space Blues

Personally I’ve always found solace in insignificance. Thinking about how we are but a tiny speck in an incomprehensibly large universe always seems to put my own problems into perspective. It’s easy to say that with your feet firmly on the ground, but I can imagine it can feel very different witnessing it all first hand. This new track from introspective folk duo takes a look at the other side of it all. The aptly named ‘Space Blues’ explores the loneliness and isolation of a life in space, and the feeling of looking out at an endless expanse and wondering if there’s any meaning in it all. Not only is a refreshingly unique subject for a song, but the duo have also executed it perfectly. With softly spoken vocals, mournful strings and eerie woodwinds offering a mystical feel, it’s the kind of song that makes the whole world seem to stand still and listen with you.

Interview: Natalie Shay

natalie shay

Photo by Max Giorgeschi

We don’t throw around the term Belwood favourite lightly, and rising star Natalie Shay more than deserves the title. This indie pop singer/songwriter released two brilliant singles last year, and her 2019 is already off to a flying start with her brand new single ‘Yesterday’. Proving a real on-to-watch, we though it was high time we have a chat with her for our first interview of the year. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Sun K – High In The City

Sat here on a bitterly cold night in January, snuggling close to a hot water bottle to try to keep the chills at bay, ‘High In The City’ is just the song I needed. A song to remind me that the summer sun, and the carefree adventures it brings, aren’t all that far away, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Canadian band Sun K have loaded this track with gritty vocals and vintage guitar tones in this superb slice of old-school no-nonsense rock’n’roll. The band aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but then again if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Wheels are very much still in use and that classic rock sound is just as potent as it ever was. Everything about this song, from the throwback vibes to the nostalgic visuals, aims to recall the summers of the past. But there’s something inexplicable about it that makes me want to go out, have adventures and make new memories… when the weather warms up that is.

Top Tracks: Marlene Oak – Come Home

I’ve never heard another voice quite like this. In Swedish singer/songwriter Marlene Oak I can hear hints of Jeff Buckley, a fair bit of Dolores O’Riordan, and a whole heap of old school soul, all blending together into a pretty unique concoction. Vocals that are equal parts forceful and fragile, which end up being the perfect match for a song like ‘Come Home’. Taken from her upcoming EP Silver Moon, out 15th February, it’s a track all about finding your soulmate. Finding an all-encompassing love that fills an empty space inside that you perhaps never even knew was there. A love so deep feels much like Marlene’s vocals on this track. Something so powerful that it consumes your entire being, that you forget all else exists, and yet in turn leaving you so open and vulnerable, quivering on the edge of breaking point. They say that love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting them not to, and Marlene imbues that same raw emotion into this song.

Spotlight!: MAVICA

mavicaOne of the things that makes a good album is when it feels like a collection of songs that belong together. They each serve a purpose and come together to tell a story or take a snapshot of a certain space and time. It’s rare that you get this with EPs, they are usually just a few singles thrown together, which is one of the reasons that MAVICA’s debut EP stood out. Gone, while not expressly telling the story of the singer/songwriter moving to London from her hometown in Spain, does a great job at capturing the feeling of leaving your life behind. ‘Friethers’ is sure to resonate with anyone feeling lost and alone, and boasts the record’s most expressive percussion and synth work, while the melancholic guitar and wistful vocals of ‘Fire’ recalls a mix of Snail Mail and Isaac Gracie. ‘Plastic Heart’ is MAVICA’s most overtly pop affair with a fabulous hook that will stay with you all day, while ‘To Lie Alone’ is the record’s most complete package. Its soothing folk drifts by like a summer breeze, building to a powerful emotional climax, before settling back to where it began. It’s like watching the sunrise when the whole world is still, then having the day rush by in front of your eyes, only to watch the sun set again as the calm returns.

Fans of Ben Howard, Sufjan Stevens, Sophie Morgan and Billie Marten should check out MAVICA’s debut EP Gone

Top Tracks: Natalie Shay – Yesterday

Up and coming singer/songwriter Natalie Shay was one of the new acts that impressed us most last year, and she’s already making waves in 2019 with her new single ‘Yesterday’. The addictive indie pop offering shows another new facet to her talents and features her best vocals and most infectious hooks to date. All about moving on from a one-sided relationship, and falling for someone who was never as committed as you, the track does a great job of wrapping up its honest and meaningful lyricism in an impeccable pop sheen. It’s the kind of song where you can draw what you want from it. Whether you’re looking for a break-up anthem or a new bop to get you up and dancing, it just depends on what mood you’re in. It varies from listen to listen, but you’ll have plenty of chance to explore both sides as I guarantee you’ll have it on repeat.