One of the greatest wonders of the modern day is in how the world can share thoughts and ideas far and wide with the greatest of ease. Not only can small bands find new audiences for their music thousands of miles away, but all the music in the world is readily available as a source of inspiration. These days you have Scandinavian bands embracing Americana, Japanese acts experimenting with European metal styles, and even have immensely talented duos from Michigan producing songs like ‘Company I Keep’ that perfectly capture the spirit of Irish folk. In this refreshing new track from Westrin & Mowry they so acutely nail the iconic sound and energy as though it were as simple as breathing. I can just imagine a cosy pub; beer flowing, laughter sounding, a smile on every face, and this song being bellowed out with enough enthusiasm to make the very rafters creak… and there’s no surer sign of great songwriting than that.
Right from the off – from the opening riff, enticing beat and that classic organ sound – singer/songwriter Luke James Shaffer makes it abundantly clear that you’re in for a good time. With vocals that remind me of James Bay, albeit with a whole lot of added soul and some of that old school rhythm and blues energy, ‘Pressure’ is just a glowing beacon of joy and positivity to light the way through whatever murky waters are troubling you. All about not sweating the small stuff and not letting the daily grind wear you down, the slick, stylish instrumentation and addictive chorus is enough to drag anyone out of the dreary day-to-day and into the warm embrace of this sublime new single. Luke’s latest effort has got ‘hit’ written all over it and is one of the most memorable and noteworthy tracks of the year thus far.
God Is An Astronaut – Epitaph
Post Rock | Instrumental
Australian band The Glorious really live up to their name with this new single. As soon as those vocals kicked in, reminding me of the likes of Glen Hansard and Simone Felice, I was hooked from the first listen. ‘Last Game Of The Season’, taken from their forthcoming album Kings, embraces a wistful Americana sound that just warms your heart from the first note to the last. Steeped in nostalgia, the track looks back on better days, more innocent times when both joy and sorrow burned their brightest, and laments on how they can’t last and we all have to move forward into a new chapter of our lives. We all get told when we’re young “these are the best days of your life” but none of us believe it until it’s too late. This is the kind of track that reminds you to take a moment to cherish today, as each day is a once in a lifetime experience.
While it is always best to believe in one’s self, a little help from others can be a great blessing. We need help, guidance and support if we ever hope to reach our full potential; this is the lesson singer/songwriter and West End star Alexis Gerred learned from his parents, and hopes to pass on to his own children in turn. The reassuring single ‘Sweet Angel’, taken from his forthcoming crowdfunded debut album, starts as an airy and uplifting ballad before kicking it up a notch with driving guitar and bass lines and expressive drum work. It’s Alexis’ powerful vocals however, and the heartwarming message that they share, that remain squarely in the spotlight where they belong. It’s a solid first step into this new stage of his career as he settles into the part he was born to play: himself.
I can’t remember the last time I stumbled across an EP as good as the debut release from this Oslo-based trio… if ever? With Distant Star, Spielbergs have captured more brilliance in just five tracks than many bands could manage across five whole albums. There’s a curious conflict at work here. This is a release that has emerged fully formed, all the insecurities that new bands usually face seem to have been cast aside, as they offer up nothing but the best for that all important first impression. Yet at the same time, you have a sense of where there’s room to grow, of how this stunning first release is just the steadfast foundation for something even greater.
The cheerfully titled ‘We Are All Going To Die’ is utterly relentless with its machine gun percussion, while the effervescent ‘Daisy! It’s the New Me’ bounds around with all the energy of a rabbit on a can of Red Bull. The expansive eight minute ‘Ghost Boy’ showcases the band’s more expressive and experimental side, while the calming closing track ‘Setting Sun’ feels like a more mature and heartfelt new direction. It’s the title track however that stands as the highlight. Capturing that universal desire of youth to break free with its sublime bass lines and spirited riffs, before concluding with retro 80s synths bursting straight out of the soundtrack to a John Hughes film. This feels like the start of something special.
Fans of Pixies, Titus Andronicus, Sonic Youth, Beach Slang and Black Foxxes should check out Spielbergs new EP Distant Star.
Songs that explode out of the blocks at full speed certainly have their moments, but they miss out on one of music’s greatest delights: the build. There’s something special about songs that change and grow, from a tiny fragile source into something majestic and imposing. This new track from Canadian indie band BamBoo is a fine example. It’s a fitting name; in nature bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, and here we experience such magnificent sounds arise from humble origins in just a few short minutes. ‘Never Look Back’, taken from their new EP Cheers, starts with simple guitar lines and shimmering synths, then delves into bright indie pop with a driving beat, before concluding with a cathartic climax. By the end, the sublime expressive drum work and soaring dream pop guitar lines feel all-encompassing, and the build up to that incredible feeling just makes it all the more potent and rewarding.
Not content to blur the lines between genres, Vinegar Mother go a step further and erase the lines entirely. ‘Moon Tomb’, taken from their upcoming debut PHASES out June 8th, is a law unto itself, a world where anything goes. There’s so much going on here that it will take you a couple of listens to soak it all in. With slick soulful vocals, tripped out psychedelic soundscapes, funky flourishes, jazzy piano, and even intricate math rock riffs, this wonderfully eclectic single hits you with everything in the band’s arsenal. It is one of those songs that seems to defy the laws of physics; you wonder how it’s possible to cram so much music into such a short space of time? With one of the most unique and diverse sounds I’ve heard in recent years, Vinegar Mother certainly have a lot to offer.
Americana is a curious one. It’s a difficult genre to put into words, yet you know it instantly when you hear it, as though it’s naturally ingrained in your spirit. Even more curious is the fact that much of the best Americana doesn’t even come from the states, it’s something you find the world over. Stray just over the border into Canada for instance and you’ll find incredible artists like Delta Jackson who offer heartwarming heartland vibes that are up there with the best of them. The wanderlust inducing ‘Willin’ sounds like it was pulled straight from The Last Waltz, while ‘Rise & Fall’ showcases the timeless beauty of Delta’s voice. The chilled out ‘Gimme One More’ is like the soundtrack to a summer daydream, ‘Blue Ink’ recalls the likes of Joni Mitchell, while ‘It Comes Down’ offers a more contemporary twist in the vein of Ryan Adams. Songs like this, that capture the Americana sound so keenly, have an ageless feel. They could have been big hits 40 years ago, and 40 years from now they will be just as potent and heartwarming as they ever were.
Delta Jackson’s eponymous debut EP is out now and is perfect for fans of Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Ryan Adams and Neil Young.
There are many different approaches when it comes to indie music, but if you find yourself leaning towards slick and stylish performances with flawless refined production, then this is right up your street. This highly polished paragon of indie pop from Coralcrown, the new solo project from Luis Gotor, recalls the likes of Blossoms and Two Door Cinema Club with its potent one-two of bright riffs and retro synths. ‘She is a Saint’, taken from the new EP Birth, has all the hallmarks of an upbeat indie hit, but lurking just beneath the surface there is an abiding air of lust and longing to throw in some passion and a fresh gritty angle on proceedings. This disco-tinged track delivers from start to finish and will make worthy addition to the playlists of any fun-loving indie fans.