Spotlight!: Chapel Row

Chapel RowHailing from Merthyr, South Wales, Chapel Row exhibit a kind of raw energy and pent-up frustration that defies expectations. Their gritty, no-nonsense rock is a sharp wake-up call from the mundanity of modern life, delivering the kind of passion that is all too often missing from the scene at the moment. Combining relatable teenage angst with musical talents beyond their years, these lads are on to a winner. ‘Lockdown’ is a hard-hitting rock masterclass that is sure to get your blood pumping. ‘She Knows’ with it’s big hooks reminds me of fellow Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen, while the intricate rhythm and anthemic chorus of ‘Cold’ makes for the perfect festival crowd-pleaser. Every so often you hear a band that ignites a fire in your heart and pumps pure electricity through your veins, and this is just such a band. Thoroughly intoxicating, and just the right level of rough around the edges, Chapel Row are one of the most thrilling bands in the UK right now, and with a bit of luck will have a big break on the cards in the near future.

Fans of Spring King, Yak, Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Amazons should check out their debut EP Lockdown.

Spotlight!: 99 Trees

99treesThis Paris based indie pop pair have given a whole new dimension to pop music with their eclectic and intelligent songwriting. With the duo’s debut EP, Multi-instrumentalist Axel Concato and Danish born singer Pia Blixen find the perfect balance between innovation and accessibility. ’21st Century’ has all the flair and positive energy of 60s surf rock, while ‘Broken‘ combines psychedelic sounds and funky bass tones with big radio-friendly hooks. ‘It’s Only Love’ brings together bright and cheerful pop with quirky hints of Yoshimi era Flaming Lips, and ‘Solid Friend’ has Bowie influences just written all over it. 99 Trees really are the best of both worlds; big addictive hooks with diverse and interesting intstrumentation. This is what pop music should sound like! Somewhere along the way we lost track of the idea that pop can be both fun and intricate, but this delightful duo have shown the ideal path. There is great potential here for them to provide just the kind of big hits that we all want and need.

Fans of MGMT, Lorde, Halsey and new Tame Impala should check out their debut EP 21st Century out 23rd June.

Spotlight!: Retroject

retroject

Photo by Adapt Film Photography

Let it be said that you should always support your local music scene. Besides the fact that all great bands had to start somewhere, you simply never know when you might stumble across something great. After a chance encounter a few years back, it’s great to rediscover Doncaster band Retroject. It’s presents an opportunity to listen to their latest release, and reflect on the band with some fresh perspective. ‘Lesson Learned’ plays host to some bright and inviting indie riffs, while ‘Webster’s English’ captures the sound of the early noughties boom of bands such as Franz Ferdinand. ‘Hear You Say’ bears a few subtle hallmarks of funk influences, while tracks like ‘Leda’ can’t help but bright to mind fellow Yorkshire lads the Arctic Monkeys. Both bands rightly wear their origins like a badge of honour, which adds an honest charm to the vocals and lyrics, and creates a real sense of character and unique personality. Musically this is a band still finding their feet and discovering their sound, but when it comes to knowing who they are and performing with absolute integrity they could well show some big name acts a thing or two.

Fans of Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand and Reverend and the Makers should check out their latest release EP III.

Spotlight!: From Apes To Angels

from apes to angelsThe days of the dynamic duo are upon us, and this pair hailing from London and Sheffield respectively are a welcome new addition to the fold. With their debut EP, rising synthpop stars Millie Gaum and Andrew Brassleay have merged retro 80s synths, futuristic electronica and polished pop production to create a sound that is very much the ‘in’ thing and is sure to find legions of new fans in no time. ‘New Skin’ bears all the hallmarks of Chvrches with its crowd-pleasing melodies and big, bold percussion. The quirky ‘Gift Tag’, with its driving rhythm and infectious chorus, is reminiscent of Grimes. The intro of ‘Together’ sounds like the lovechild of Lana Del Rey and the Stranger Things soundtrack, while ‘Eternity’ sounds like some robotic lullaby from the distant future. From Apes To Angels have a synth sound that is up there with the best of them, and with this assured and accessible first release they seem set to go from strength to strength.

If you’re a fan of Chvrches, Grimes, LANY and Hurts, then their upcoming EP New Skin, out 24th July, is sure to be right up your street.

Spotlight!: Simon Baum

simon baumBeing a singer/songwriter and performing in very stripped back and intimate arrangements is all about creating a sense of honesty. Sharing with the audience something personal and meaningful, baring your soul for the world to see. London based artist Simon Baum understands this role better than most. With his new EP Better he has crafted four touchingly heartfelt songs that say a lot about his character. The title track speaks of being thankful for what you have and feeling confident in one’s self, and ‘It’s All For You’ is a moving declaration of love, complete with vivid lyrical imagery. ‘Firelight’ sees Simon’s voice at it’s most vulnerable and delicate, while the incredibly moving ‘Bridges‘ shares an important message of togetherness, and about how the only way we can make the world a better place is to celebrate the things we all have in common. Simon Baum gives a modern spin to the classic 70s singer/songwriter sound of artists such as James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, producing an intimate portrait of himself within his music, albeit one that we can all see some small part of ourselves within.

Fans of Seafret, Frances, Isaac Gracie and Billie Marten should check out his new EP Better.

Spotlight!: Ailbhe Reddy

ailbhe reddyThis Dublin born singer/songwriter, having already made waves in her native Ireland, seems set to carve out a path towards international acclaim. With her new upcoming EP, Ailbhe Reddy crafts a curious amalgamation of styles. Attach To Memory combines elements of folk, indie and electropop; all underpinned by her unique vocals, recalling everyone from Lianne La Havas and The Cranberries, to Daughter and Feist. Indie rocker ‘Fingertips’ takes a frank look at female sexuality and boasts a curiously addictive chorus, while the folky beginnings of ‘Never Loved’ conjure up an image of falling leaves in some picturesque city park. ‘Disconnect’ builds towards a climactic wall of sound and the genre-hopping ‘Loose’ sees Ailbhe’s voice at it’s very best, shifting from psychedelic soul to beat driven pop perfection. There are a thousand tiny elements within the music that I could trace back, but all together they create a sound that is truly one of a kind. Following on from the success of her first release Hollowed Out Sea, Ailbhe Reddy has kicked it up a few notches and seems sure to reach even greater heights with furture releases. The sky is the limit.

Fans of Feist, Daughter, Lanterns On The Lake and Lianne La Havas should check out her latest EP Attach To Memory out 24th May

Spotlight!: Goodwood Atoms

goodwood atoms

Photo by Katrin Braga

Though the music world is dominated by the US and the UK, Canada has been growing ever closer to reaching that level. The Great White North has become a real dark horse, and it is bands such as Goodwood Atoms that are leading the charge. With their latest EP The Place they have crafted a fascinating musical voyage. Listening to it is like drifting along in the jetstream; a sense of calm while a vast and bountiful world races past you. ‘Dreaming About’ kicks off with electronic beats and swelling synths before launching into a bass driven indie rock number reminiscent of Arcade Fire. ‘Tech Know’ sees the band at their most eclectic, crafting a moving atmosphere and populating it with intricate acoustic riffs and powerful drum patterns. ‘Into The Bay’ sees Goodwood Atoms further embracing electronica and injecting an all too often cold and reserved genre with some much needed fire, while the mellow acoustic closing track ‘Place’ has hints of Fleet Foxes and early Bon Iver. The band have released one of the strongest EPs of the year, exhibiting a high standard that few full albums have even been able to match, never mind maintain it for the duration.

Goodwood Atoms new EP The Place is out 12th May, and is perfect for fans of Radiohead, Anathema, Sigur Ros and Fleet Foxes

Spotlight!: Rebecca Raw

rebecca rawHaving sang in choirs and learned to play cello from an early age, London-based singer/songwriter Rebecca Raw channels her classical inspirations into a captivating contemporary sound. Her debut EP Deep Within maintains an emotive air of spirituality that persists throughout as she explores ethereal folk and uplifting indie pop. The EP’s signature song ‘Connection’ speaks of longing for deeper and more meaningful relationships rather than the all too often fleeting and emotionless interactions of the modern world. The acapella driven ‘Dust and Ashes’ sees Rebecca’s songwriting at it’s most curious and experimental, while ‘Freefall’ brings together modern indie pop with 80s power ballad vibes. Rebecca’s finest hour however is the aptly titled ‘Whisper Thin’, crafted around little more than a delicate piano and her own angelic vocals to produce one of the most breathtaking musical moments of the year. Rebecca Raw has produced a technically faultless and stylistically interesting first release, but far more important than that she has gifted the world with something that connects with you deep down; a quality all the more rare and precious.

Rebecca’s Deep Within EP is out now and is perfect for fans of The Glass Child, Billie Marten, The Swell Season and Julien Baker

Spotlight!: Gozer Goodspeed

gozer goodspeed

Photo by Sandra Vilimaite

Armed with little more than an acoustic guitar and his trusty hat, Plymouth based singer/songwriter Gozer Goodspeed has crafted his own unique blend of classic blues and traditional English folk. Unplugged, understated and under no pressure to follow petty trends, here is a man carving his own path in this busy industry. ‘Every Night, Saturn’s Rings’ sees his guitar work at it’s most light and airy, and the more attentive listener might discern a few hints of Bono in the vocals. ‘What You Got Going On, Lewis?’ throws some piano into the mix to create a sound akin to a blend of the Rolling Stones and some old wild west saloon. The mandolin heavy ‘Barrel Headlong Into The Night’, the title track of Gozer’s forthcoming second EP, brings to mind the pastoral, yet vaguely exotic, soundscapes of Led Zeppelin III. Gozer Goodspeed’s foot-tapping blues and carefree folk are the product of an honest and down-to-Earth musician driven by a love of what he does.

Fans of Dan Owen, Seafret, Scott Lloyd and Jake Bugg should check out his Barrel Headlong Into The Night EP out 19th May

Spotlight!: Miccoli

miccoli bandIt’s important within a band to have a strong bond, a deep connection of spirit and a sharing of ideas. It’s always been said that blood is thicker than water and few acts work in such perfect harmony as Miccoli, composed of twin brothers Alex and Adriano, and their sister Francesca. Weaving their voices together to craft a spellbinding display, an angelic chorus so rarely found in indie pop, they have produced one of the most promising EPs of the year. ‘Idle Stranger’ is a late night anthem to lead the way when you find yourself lost in life, while the slow burning ‘Undo’ show Miccoli’s ethereal harmonies at their best. The suitably bright and uplifting ‘Lights’ is a finely crafted hit in the making and the stripped back ‘Devices’ builds an intricate and fragile cathedral of sound from the sparsest of arrangements. This band of siblings have a clear idea of who they want to be, and if they carry on the legacy of their first EP then they are sure to win over new fans everywhere they go.

Miccoli’s debut EP 1/2 is out 12th May and is a must for fans of The Staves, Ben Howard, Amber Run and early Bon Iver