Top Tracks: Reed Gaines – Vampire

Quite often the spark that drives me, and I would hope all music writers, is the one that comes from finding a diamond in the rough. Hearing a new track full of promise from an up-and-coming artist and just being completely captivated by the sense of possibility, and looking forward to watching them grow. Hearing some interesting style or engaging melodies, envisioning how it can be built upon further down the line, and singing its praises from the rooftops to give it a nudge (however small) to help reach that point. ‘Vampire’ is not one of those tracks. It’s no diamond in the rough, rather it’s already perfectly cut, full of fire and brimming with brilliance. Nashville based artist Reed Gaines offers an assured performance, and delivers a song that any big name band would proudly parade as a new lead single. The anthemically bittersweet melodies and driving drums immediately recall The National’s ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’, but the quiet dignity of Reed’s hushed vocal style and some smatterings of elegant piano and spaced out synths in the closing moments manage to add his own unique stamp upon it. ‘Vampire’ is such a triumph that almost the opposite is true and it’s hard to see just how it can be built upon… but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Top Tracks: Love Crumbs – Ellipses

This past year has been difficult for everyone, and for many of us our friends have been the lifeline that has kept us going. We’ve all been given a chance to reflect on the things that truly matter and strengthen the connections that matter most to us. But as we rekindle old friendships and grow closer to loved ones, we are sadly also reminded of all the relationships that have somehow fallen by the wayside. For whatever reason there are plenty of people that we slowly drift apart from until they become strangers in all but name. While the relationships that end abruptly usually at least come with some amount of closure, those that quietly erode without you noticing before it’s too late leave behind a multitude of questions and ‘what-ifs’; no big crescendo, just fading away into silence. With wonderfully expressive raspy vocals reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, the bittersweet Americana of ‘Ellipses’ addresses the lonely limbo of faded friendships. How you try your hardest to keep the conversation alive but the replies still become fewer and further between, until they just stop all together. How it leaves you with so much left unsaid, still wondering how they’re doing long after losing touch, never knowing if there was a reason, something you could have done different, or whether it was all just life getting in the way.

Top Tracks: Amy May Ellis – Fresh Drone

So much of who we are is intrinsically tied to the turn of the seasons. Who among us hasn’t felt uplifted by the first sun of spring and seeing the leaves and flowers begin to bloom. That moment of transition which brings a lightness to your heart and a comforting feeling of familiarity. It’s a peculiar sensation, and one that seems to burn brighter with each passing year. Whether we realise it or not, captured in that moment is the memory of shifting seasons from ages past and all the changes they wrought. In the first azure sky of summer we remember the boundless feeling that came from our carefree adventures, with the first cool breeze of autumn we recall walking with loved ones beneath the golden falling leaves, and with winter’s first flakes of snow our inner child jumps for joy every time. With her blissful new single ‘Fresh Drone’, Amy May Ellis encapsulates that sense of reflection and nostalgia. Perfect for fans of Billie Marten, its light and airy folk arrangement is the perfect analogue for the feeling of simply closing your eyes, listening to the birdsong, and feeling the breeze across your skin. Taken from her upcoming EP When In The Wind, ‘Fresh Drone’ hangs over you in a delicate haze, like a fading dream still clinging on through the first light of morning.