Interview: Francesca Louise

francesca louiseIt’s important to look for silver linings in times of uncertainty. They say that when a door closes a window opens, or words to that effect, and it’s just a matter of finding it. There’s a lot that we’ve been lacking in this year, but one thing we have no shortage of right now is time. Time that can be spent discovering new music; finding records to get lost in and absorbing every last note, stumbling upon artists whose words resonate in the deepest recesses of your soul. One of my favourite such discoveries from this year has been the incredibly talented Francesca Louise, whose debut EP Melancholic Antidote delivers just what its title promises. Her earnest lyricism and the welcoming embrace of the soulful folk arrangements offers the perfect sanctuary to escape to. Having nothing but time also meant I was lucky enough to chat to Francesca about her stunning new record. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Simon Alexander – Heading Nowhere

We all feel a little lost sometimes, now more than ever. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the uncertainty that surrounds us. To be kept awake by the endless string of unanswered questions, to have no idea what kind of world awaits you tomorrow, and to be left directionless and just sleepwalking from one day to the next. Rather than search harder for meaning and stability, sometimes the best course of action is not to fight the current. Sometimes the only respite when feeling lost is choosing where to lose yourself; being able to shut out the world and dream of something better. That’s exactly the kind of escape offered by ‘Heading Nowhere’, the latest single from Swedish singer/songwriter Simon Alexander. Taken from his forthcoming debut album A Place Called Home, the airy folk arrangement, hazy ambient soundscapes and haunting harmonies transports you to idyllic dream world. The perfect blissful sanctuary from a world gone mad, a calm and comforting respite from the storms that rage both without and within all of us. Having already wowed us with his In The Rust EP at the beginning of the year, and now with this serene slice of his debut album, Simon is far from “heading nowhere”, instead he keeps on proving to be one of the most consistently brilliant songwriters in 2020.

Spotlight!: Camp 8

camp8Everything is a beautiful contradiction. The debut EP from Melbourne based artist Reuben Apirana, released under his musical moniker Camp 8, has got to be one of the finest EPs I’ve ever heard. Written following a devastating break up, each track serves as a window into a different part of the journey. Starting with the seeds of doubt that something is wrong, through all the loss and anger and pain of the breakup itself, closing with the fresh doubt that comes with new love forming and finding the courage to trust again. Every aspect of the story feels suitably cinematic with its entrancingly emotive orchestration and crisp vocals. A truly immaculately produced baroque pop record. But while every aspect of the artistry at work here is grand and finely crafted, it somehow flows in a way that feels natural and effortless. Musically this release feels very polished and precise, but it also carries an emotional weight that feels raw and uncompromising. Continue reading

Top Tracks: Callum Pitt – Fault Lines

There is far more that unites us than divides us, though sadly it seems there are plenty of people who would have you believe otherwise. People who get off on stoking division and inciting rampant ignorance. Politicians and tabloids demonising immigrants and the less fortunate, letting the foul plague of prejudice sweep society, either to serve their own agendas or simply as there’s a cold festering void where their heart should be. At times the hateful clamouring rings so loud that basic human empathy is made to seem completely alien, and you begin to wonder if there’s any compassion and understanding left in the world. Thankfully tracks like the indie folk splendour of ‘Fault Lines’ serve as a reminder that there are other frustrated people out there, with open hearts and open minds, who are more inclined to build bridges than throw up walls. With lines like “We rise and fall under the weight of words that fan the flames of hatred, When we demonise we form a mind that will not be persuaded”, Callum Pitt perfectly captures the uphill battle we face in order to erode years of discrimination and division through discourse and education. With Callum’s discerning lyricism delivered alongside infectious melodies, a driven rhythm section and fantastic guitar work reminiscent of The War On Drugs, it’s just the track to turn to when you need convincing that a better world is waiting just over the horizon.

Top Tracks: Bestfriend – Last Bus in the A.M.

If there’s one heartwarming upside to be drawn from this crazy year it’s been how connected we have remained despite being stuck at home and unable to meet in person. How friendships have thrived in spite of the distance, and how new ones have formed against all the odds. With this in mind ‘Last Bus in the A.M.’ very much captures the zeitgeist of 2020. Unconventional pop duo Bestfriend composed their latest stunning synthpop single from complete opposite ends of the country – with Stacy Kim on the West Coast, Kaelan Geoffrey on the East, and thousands of miles and several time zones in between. Not that you would know that by listening, as every exquisitely crafted element falls seamlessly into place. The nostalgic synths offering an intoxicating hit of familiarity, while the soft vocals and understated harmonies feed into the beautifully bittersweet and dreamy tone. The rich storytelling in the lyrics bringing every shambolic party you’ve ever been to right to the forefront of your mind, making even hectic nights full of angst, anxiety and awkwardness shimmer through rose tinted glasses. To hear two people so far apart sound so in sync is such a life-affirming experience. A welcome reminder of the power that music has to bring us together.

Top Tracks: AJIMAL – I’ve Known Your Heart

It’s songs like this that really make my job difficult. As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time weaving my thoughts about music into a verbose tapestry of flowery language, the rare gift of a song that leaves me lost for words is the most delightfully vexatious experience imaginable. Doctor by day and musical maestro by night, Fran O’Hanlon’s latest single under his moniker AJIMAL is an absolute must-hear track. To say that his soulful and tender vocals evoke Jeff Buckley, and that the opulent orchestration reminds me of the softer side of Talk Talk and Belwood favourites The Last Dinosaur, would only be scratching the surface. The loving intimacy and devotion of this track is so hard to describe, but it’s a feeling that anyone who has given their heart to someone completely will know all too well. Anyone who has known a love so absolute will be left breathless by the line “I’ve loved your heart as long as it’s been beating”. And I doubt even Wordsworth himself could compose a poem to describe the sensation which this gorgeous arrangement offers. How this blissful baroque pop ballad makes your spirit soar, how it lifts you up to pirouette upon a pillowy canopy of clouds. The only way to truly understand is to hear it for yourself.