When you think of The Veils your mind probably goes to the bewitchingly dark and gritty sound that they’re best known for. The kind of songs that feel like they should be the soundtrack to all the devil’s future deals at the crossroads. It’s odd then that this live offering from frontman Finn Andrews draws you in for being just the opposite. ‘A Shot Through The Heart’, taken from his forthcoming debut solo album One Piece At A Time out 22nd March, is wonderfully refined and elegant with its lush piano and heartwarming swell of strings. Despite its less than cheerful lyrics, the simply sublime score that accompanies them, along with Finn’s smooth and soothing vocals, feels supremely uplifting. All it takes is one listen and you’ll be humming the tune as you waltz about your day.
Starting with a stripped back 70s singer/songwriter style deeply reminiscent of James Taylor, before lush American instrumentation sweeps in to offer a more contemporary spin, ‘Better Life With You’ simply radiates charm in everything it does. This latest track from songwriter and artist Dylan Aiello is a timeless break-up ballad, that is kept from being bogged down by the dejected nostalgia that comes with the collapse of a relationship, thanks to its heartwarming melodies. The accompanying video really adds to the storytelling and is so beautifully shot, albeit in an understated way. The way each section is lit and framed is impeccable and the gorgeous stop-motion animation interwoven into the middle is a great touch. ‘Better Life With Me’ displays a dash of that slick pop sheen while still showing plenty of heart and authenticity, getting that ever elusive balance just right.
The opening to this track from Berlin based outfit Ritzy Park has got to be one of my favourite musical moments of 2018. ‘Spinning Head of Mine (The Stress Song)’, taken from their debut EP What We Know, begins with a quiet and refined piano intro that shifts into maximum overdrive at the drop of a hat with a mighty roar of 70s guitar. I can’t remember the last time I heard a song go from 0 to 60 so fast. With a driving bassline and vocals reminiscent of Debbie Harry, this pressure cooker of a song details the struggles and stresses of modern life, whirling closer and closer to chaos until the dam breaks and a tempestuous torrent of pent-up frustrations break loose. If you’re having the kind of day where you feel like tearing the room apart like a human tornado, this is the song to tip you over the edge.
I do love a bit of rich imagery in a song, and Brooklyn based artist Jake Harms offers just that in his latest track ‘Aquarium’. Comparing life in New York to a life behind glass, the pressure weighing down on you as you stare out into another world so cut off from your own, ‘Aquarium’ offers a unique and interesting point of view. It’s such a great metaphor, not only for the city as a whole, but for all the people trapped in their own little bubble as they go about their daily life. Musically it blends the serene haze of dream pop with bouts of dark and gothic post punk. With an enveloping feel, like the underwater life it depicts, it’s perfectly suited for those days when you’re lost in a fog of thoughts, trying to make sense of it all.
Though Cristina’s first single ‘House Of Tears’ became one of my favourite songs of the year thanks to its lush and expansive sound, I find myself loving ‘No Regrets’ for doing just the opposite. One of the biggest pitfalls of pop music is overproduction. It doesn’t matter how pretty the veneer is unless it has a strong foundation first and foremost. Often, with a truly great song, you can strip everything away down to the bare essentials and it still works. While the instrumentation on ‘No Regrets’ is superb, with its driving acoustic rhythm and bright synths, it knows when to hold back. Instead what carries the song is its infectious hooks, Cristina’s golden vocals, and its empowering message, about taking the brave step to leave a toxic relationship and holding your head up high. Whether she’s building up her songs layer by layer like an oil painting, or remaining restrained and purposeful like a sketch drawing, Cristina’s music is always a work of art to be admired.
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.