Spotlight!: Lorne

lorneMaybe I just read too much into things, but sometimes you find an artist beyond their years, reflected in their songs. Sometimes you hear a voice that sounds as though it has regaled a thousand stories down the years, sharing words that show the wisdom of one who has an intimate knowledge of the world, and it simply doesn’t match up with the artist in question. With his debut EP Maze, Berkshire born singer/songwriter Lorne sounds as though he’s been releasing music all his life. The striking ‘Bread Alone’ shares a message of seizing the day and living life to the fullest, and feels like a ray of sunlight parting the clouds. The subtle electronics on ‘Cocoon’ supplement the elegant piano beautifully, recalling acts ranging from Benjamin Clementine to Bastille. ‘Oil and Water’ and ‘Navigate’ move closer into pop territory, but still maintain the mature and refined vibe that makes Lorne stand out from the crowd. Drawing inspiration from such artists as Peter Gabriel and Damien Rice, this classically trained pianist combines airy atmospheres and pop sensibilities, with his own elegant and sophisticated artistry.

Fans of Birdy, Five For Fighting, Bon Iver and Tom Odell should check out his debut EP Maze


Spotlight!: Lightscape

lightscapeContrary to the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, I often find album artworks can make a very important first impression. With even just a passing glance at the cover of their new EP Circles, you can’t help but be drawn to Lightscape’s latest work. An entire world in miniature standing over you, imposing and awe-inspiring, is the perfect metaphor for the music contained within. With fierce riffs, emphatic drum work, and even faint little electronic flourishes, all crowned by Will Overton’s towering melodic vocals, this alt rock quintet from Norwich have crafted an impressive sound. The slow build of ‘By Design’ kicks off the EP in fantastic form, while the anthemic ‘More To Life’ searches for a greater meaning and purpose as it winds its way through some of the record’s heaviest moments. The hard-hitting break-up track ‘Press Rewind’ delivers some passionate vocals, the relatively stripped back slow burner ‘Haven’t Got The Time’ makes a nice change of pace, while the epic ‘Live In Fear’ ends the EP on a high, showing great light and shade and standing out as Lightscape’s best work yet. These lads are on fine form, showing the rest of the country’s alternative scene how it’s done and leaving you wanting more.

Fans of Lonely The Brave, 30 Seconds to Mars and Nothing But Thieves should check out their latest EP Circles out 1st December.

Spotlight!: Peco

pecoWith so many singer/songwriters on the circuit it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. There’s one sure way however to give your music a warm glow of charm, integrity and individuality, something that Irish artist Peco McLoughin has down already; be true to yourself as an artist. Even just a cursory listen to his music shows someone naturally channeling his influences into his own distinct style. The galloping beat and disjointed verses of ‘Self Help – A Beginner’s Guide’ make it a perfect example of Peco’s unique character, while the blues stomp of ‘Harbour Master’ shows him crafting a narrative rich with imagery. ‘Safe Haven’ is a suitably serene folk number, the understated instrumentation of ‘After The Wake’ reminds me of Van Morrison, while ‘Grace Isn’t Easy’ show’s Peco’s ability to turn a phrase at it’s very best. Relatable lines such as “I may not be the best guy to explain to you the way I really feel, but it’s hard for me to separate what’s in my head from what is real” really connect and stay with you, which all singer/songwriters should aspire to do. Peco’s debut EP offers an insightful snapshot of this assured and talented songwriter.

Fans of Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Neil Young and Laura Marling should check out his debut EP And So I Arrived At The Start out now.

Spotlight!: Young Earth

young earthI’ve often thought that names say a lot about a band, but while the actual young Earth was harsh and lifeless, this Dublin based band are anything but. This up-and-coming indie quartet are brimming with bright energy, youthful exuberance and an air of lovable charm, producing some of the finest indie pop to ever emerge from the Emerald Isle. ‘Frequency Illusion’ features a great driving rhythm and spiralling guitar work, ‘Worth It’ is an infectious festival ready anthem, while the catchy hooks of ‘Got a Secret’ show a heavier side to the band and carries a kind of roguish air to it. ‘Under Cover’ has some sublime bass tones and is reminiscent of Royal Blood in the chorus, while ‘Let Go’ plays around with more refined, sun-drenched soundscapes that could have come straight from LA. Perhaps the real moral behind the name Young Earth is that they will grow, and become even more vibrant and full of life as time goes on. Regardless of what comes next however, Young Earth are sounding on fine form on their debut EP.

Fans of The Vaccines, Circa Waves, Two Door Cinema Club and The Kooks should check out their debut EP Frequency Illusion out 7th November

Spotlight!: Lots Holloway

lots hollowayFollowing on from her bewitching single ‘Stay A Little Longer‘ earlier in the year, multi-instumentalist Lots Holloway is back to delight with her debut EP. Raised in a small town in Cornwall, before moving to London to hone her work, she has meticulously crafted these songs in her own unique style and carefully controlled every single aspect of her creations. The sweet expanse of ‘Slow Down’ shares a moral of savouring every moment of this fleeting life, while the superb bass tones of ‘Berry Bones’ are reminiscent of Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’. ‘Love Me’ sees Lots at her most infectious and accessible, while the stripped back ‘Between You And Me’ shows a whole new side to her, vulnerable and pleading. It’s a stark contrast to the venom infused vocals and experimental soundscapes of her previous single, and really shows Lots’ adaptability as an artist and as a songwriter. This self-taught and single-minded singer/songwriter showcases her talents with passion and purpose. Determined to carve out her own path, Lots is one to watch.

Fans of Lorde, PJ Harvey, Angel Olsen and Halsey should check out her debut EP Slow Down out 4th October.

Spotlight!: The Standard Affiliates

the standard affiliatesIf anywhere in the world knows about summer it’s Southern California, and therefore it should come as no surprise that their native bands know how to write a feel-good summer hit. With their debut EP The Standard Affiliates have made a worthy addition to SoCal’s extensive arsenal of summer ready indie rock anthems. Boasting high energy and high spirits, it doesn’t take much to picture their songs as real crowd pleasers in a live setting. The infectious chorus and bright riffs of ‘Is It News To You’ reminds me of Clean Cut Kid, while the rhythm section work overtime on the intro of ‘Shack’ to build up the beat like a galloping stallion in the distance heading your way. The sharp squalling guitar tones of ‘Naive’ really jump out at you, ‘Daydreams’ conjures up images of carefree days on the beach with its surf rock vibes, while ‘Paint it Gold’ sees The Standard Affiliates at their peak with an indie pop banger that is up there with the best of them. If you need a band to soundtrack your summer adventures, or inspire you to get out there and start them, then you’re in luck.

The Standard Affiliates debut EP Standard is out now and is perfect for fans of Clean Cut Kid, Flyte, The 1975 and the Courteeners.

Spotlight!: Midnight Divide

midnight divideThough 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.

Spotlight!: Bella McKendree

bella mckendreeA first release is a daunting thing. It’s said that you can only make one first impression, and when it comes to music you need to give the world an idea of where you come from, what manner of person you are, and what path you intend to follow, all in just a few minutes. With her debut EP Waiting, singer/songwriter Bella McKendree makes a difficult task seem like the most natural thing in the world, which to me is the mark of a great artist. The title track builds from its sparse piano driven opening, with the expressive drum tones of the track’s closing moments proving to be the cherry on top of the carefully crafted atmosphere. There is no greater atmosphere however than that of ‘Grieve’; an expansive feel akin to Daughter or Lanterns on the Lake, given fresh urgency by the restless beat. ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Loved’ offers a more mature, bluesy sound, the kind you’d expect drifting from some exclusive jazz club in the heart of London. But it’s on the closing track ‘Baby Lets Fall’ that Bella’s vocals really take centre stage, proving to be nothing short of angelic. Sometimes first impressions are so good you wish you could hear them again for the first time.

Bella’s debut EP Waiting is out 18th August, and is perfect for fans of London Grammar, Daughter, The XX and Gabrielle Aplin.

Spotlight!: The Claxbys

the claxbysOne of the unwritten rules of being a music lover is to support your local scene. Not only out of principle, knowing that every great band started out at exactly the same point once upon a time, but also because you never know what gems might be hiding away just around the corner. In a world of polished and overproduced indie rock, it’s nice to find a local marvel like The Claxbys who aren’t afraid to go back to the genre’s roots and embrace a “rough around the edges” approach. ‘Just Another Day’ matches some superb bass tones with sharp riffs and skittering drum fills, while ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ has built an indie anthem atop a subtle yet expansive atmosphere that makes the track stand out and worm its way under your skin. ‘Weezer Song (Photograph)’ shows the band at their most raw and features their most complex and emotive drum work, and ‘Alone in the City’ defies it’s lonesome lyricism by being the EP’s most buoyant and exuberant offering. The trouble with trios is that each member needs to meet the same standard, or the whole thing collapses. Thankfully here are three lads who are evenly matched and perfectly prepared to offer up some top-notch classic indie.

Fans of The Libertines, Razorlight, The Kooks and The Strokes should check out their debut EP Osnabruck.

Spotlight!: White Noise Radio

white noise radio band

Photo by Rob Marsden

In a world where we have unadventurous and one-dimensional music forced on us everywhere we turn, it sometimes seeps into your system. It can leave you too quick to dismiss, and all too often you can end up underestimating bands. If, like me, you dive into White Noise Radio expecting a run of the mill alternative rock band, you will find yourself confronted with something far more complex and compelling than you anticipated. Just from the intricate opening drums of ‘Siren’, immediately reminiscent of Tool, it’s clear this Bristol band have a lot to offer. The fierce riffs of ‘Gone Inside’ hint at the band’s darker, more aggressive side, channeling Mastodon in its heaviest moments. ‘Dawning’ alternates between feral alt rock energy and soulful atmospheric sections, while the trippy ‘Wires’ has clear hints of Porcupine Tree as it shifts from shimmering psychedelica into full-blown metal territory. Equally adept at sounding both raw and melodic, and with the right level of technical wizardry to appeal to both prog and alt rock fans, White Noise Radio are perfectly poised to conquer the underground scene.

Fans of Tool, Karnivool, Alter Bridge and Mastodon should check out their new EP Cosmos out 1st July.