Truth be told “Gosh” isn’t really in my vernacular, but if it was it would do a great job of summing up my feelings towards ‘The Big Ego’. Taken from their forthcoming album Beyond The Blue, Mr. Goshness have delivered a stone cold stunner with this new single. There are flashes of Rush and The Dear Hunter (my two favourite bands) in the song’s impeccable production, impressive percussion and riffs so slick and intricate they can turn on a sixpence. What sets it apart however is the dash of pop punk thrown into the mix. Not too much as to steal the spotlight, rather just enough to offer the track some youthful exuberance, vibrant colour and heaps of confidence. This progressive pop powerhouse leaves me wondering: do I love it because of the parts that feel familiar, or the parts that feel unique and refreshing? I suppose I’ll just have to listen to it on repeat until I figure out the answer.
Thirty seconds. That’s all you need to fall in love with this track. In that time you have an opening beat that just screams ‘Billie Jean’, riffs reminiscent of The Black Keys, and plenty of that irresistible funk feel. If you’re a fan of Nile Rodgers (like any sane individual with functioning ears) then this track is right up your street. This Manchester based international outfit have drawn on every trick in the book to make ‘Blue’ an inescapable earworm. There is however an interesting juxtaposition at work between the infectious groove and the dispirited lyricism that weaves a tale of loneliness. You’d think the two would clash, that “getting down” and “feeling down” are two very different things. Instead it helps it stand out from the crowd by tugging at your heartstrings as well as relentlessly luring you to the dancefloor.
Writing a song is all about telling a story in some form or another. The trouble is in making it stand out, while also ensuring that it connects with people. This new song from MARBL delivers on both counts with its unique and heartfelt message. The understated folk pop of ‘I Think I Saw You On The Street’ tells the tale of seeing a past love many years down the line. The inevitable thoughts of what could have been had things turned out differently, and the acceptance that there are some things we can’t change. Even if we could there’s no way to know the outcome. With it superb storytelling and endearing video, it’s a reminder not to dwell on the times our own path crossed with another, but to look out on the path ahead. To be open to future encounters and cherish the journey itself.
Fans of Tom Grennan and Rag’N’Bone Man may have just found a new favourite band in London quintet Harker Moon. The gritty soul of ‘Muma Says’, which shares words of wisdom reminding you to cherish the one you love, isn’t the kind of song that takes you on a journey, rather it leaves you sat engrossed in the song as the scenery changes around you. It opens with a mournful piano feel that paints a picture of a quiet London jazz club on a rainy night. Soon the song kicks up a notch with all the warmth and vibrance of a classic Motown act living it up in a luxurious ballroom, before crashing to a conclusion complete with wailing guitar tones that would sound right at home in a bustling underground club serving up raw and real indie acts. Slick and soulful, but with just the right amount of rough around the edges, there is an awful lot to like here.
As much as I want to describe this song as ‘cinematic’ it would feel like a disservice. The fact of the matter is that seldom few films can claim to have as much drama, as much emotion, as much growth and progression and concise storytelling. ‘Unravelled’ is cinematic in the sense that it’s what cinema should aspire to. Opening with a bittersweet piano melody and downcast vocals that are perfect for fans of The National, it gradually adds electronic flourishes, a swell of strings and fierce tortured guitar tones to leave you with a different beast altogether by the end. At it’s stirring climax the vocals take on a more gritty and soulful feel, reminding me of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Iron Sky’, as the cherry on top of this slow-burning powerhouse. ‘Unravelled’, contrary to its name, wraps itself around you layer by layer and simply refuses to let go.
Pop music frequently gets a hard time, but often for a good reason. While it does big hooks and infectious melodies exceptionally well, what it often lacks is authenticity, the feeling of genuine emotion and meaning behind the song. That’s what makes this new break-up anthem from up and coming duo Ciircus Street so refreshing. ‘Broken’ has plenty of pop hallmarks in its harmonies and its slick and polished instrumentation, but it details coming to terms with breaking up, and how the right decision can still hurt as though it’s the wrong decision, in such a heartfelt and thought-provoking way. The raw and gritty inflection in the vocals injects such passion into the track, and its imperfections give it a sense of humanity and character that is so often missing in the genre. “Pop” needn’t be a dirty word if only we had more songs like this.
Following the success of his debut EP Cirrhi earlier this year, Lokki (aka Drew MacFarlane of Glass Animals) is back with a brand new track. Reminiscent in places of The Last Shadow Puppets, ‘High’ details the feeling of taking a step back from your life to take a look at the bigger picture. It carries the same lush vibe that made his EP so compelling, but what really sets this track apart is the stunning stop motion video. Made from thousands of photographs strung together (along with added illustrations, as if it wasn’t complicated enough to make already!) by animator Tayo Kopfer, it is a mightily impressive work in its own right and adds a deeper layer of charm to and already charming song.
I can’t help but respect a band that can pack a lot of great ideas into just a few short minutes, and Brooklyn based duo Hanford Reach do just that on their delightfully dystopian new single. ‘Winston Smith’, named after the protagonist of the ever relevant 1984, is a curious little psychedelica cocktail. It has some great trippy guitar work and some simply fantastic percussion but also brings something else to the table, some hard to define aura. It starts with the kind of light and airy vibes you’d expect from a psychedelic song, but as it progresses the bleak lyrical content seems to sow seeds of darkness within the music itself. Even then, it seems too bright and vibrant a track to depict a world so sombre, but that’s how it fits so well with 1984. You’re shown this cheerful veneer but you can’t escape this primal feeling, this tingle across your skin, that there’s something lurking beneath it all.
God, they don’t make them like this anymore. That is, “they” being everyone other than London based quartet Cavey. An absolute masterclass in old-school soul and blues, ‘About To Start’ details the less glamorous side to life as a musician. At its climax the track shifts from a timeless blues solo, to an energising rush of brass, before bringing the whole thing down with softly spoken vocals and gentle jazzy piano. It’s like going from wowing the main stage to serenading some private VIP lounge in the span of a few seconds. This is the kind of song that just transports you somewhere else, mind, body and soul. Press play, close your eyes, and suddenly you can feel the warmth of some crowded jazz club, smell rising smoke from cigarettes and candlelight, and picture the band onstage putting on one hell of a show.
I love a video that tells a story, and in the case of ‘Quoting Sagan’ the visuals offer a glimpse into how the song itself came to life and into the people behind it. The band’s river cruising imbues a sense of wanderlust; but instead of a journey for the journey’s sake we get a slow and serene voyage through still waters and picturesque scenes, taking the time to bask in the surrounding beauty. The very act itself of cruising down the river, and the shots of the old-school keyboards with their walls of switches and dials, gives the feeling of being rooted in another time. It fits perfectly with the warm vintage glow of the song itself. Charming visuals aside, this heartwarming Americana track offers some sublime splashes of soul, a gorgeous rise and fall, and easily some of the best percussion I’ve heard all year. A real gem on all fronts, this Glaswegian outfit share such a feast for the senses with their latest single.