It’s great to find something new, but let it be said that there is certainly a special charm to be found in the familiar. After all, that’s how most of us discover new music; we hear something we like and say “I want more!”. Case in point the new track from Dutch band Niko is such an inviting amalgamation of elements from songs and artists that I adore. ‘Myself’, already a brilliant critique of the break-down of our self-centred society, also boasts a main riff reminiscent of Rush’s ‘Limelight’, a soaring solo akin to that found in The Only Ones’ ‘Another Girl Another Planet’, and vocals that are sure to win over fans of classic indie. What’s more impressive is that this potent patchwork proves to be greater than the sum of its parts, injecting much of their own character into the infectious melodies.
The ever astounding Welsh wonder Hannah Grace has released perhaps her finest track yet. On ‘The Bed You Made’, the title track of a forthcoming EP, she channels heartbreak into creating something truly heavenly. Lyrically it’s as open and heartfelt as they come, and the perspective it offers on the feeling of being betrayed and yet finding contentment in herself shows real strength and maturity, both as a person and as a songwriter. The simple yet soulful arrangement offers such warmth and comfort that the song just seems to embrace you and hold you close until the world seems that bit brighter. I also love how the majority of the video was filmed across a single long take which really adds to its open and honest atmosphere. As always though, it’s Hannah’s gloriously versatile vocals that steal both the spotlight and your heart. She’s going from strength to strength and her debut album just can’t come soon enough.
Belwood favourite REN is back with a brand new track, and my, ‘Blue Hounds’ is a curious one! There’s a real dichotomy at work here between the music and lyrics which on paper shouldn’t work, but in practice REN has pulled it off with real panache. Musically it is an example of introspective folk at it’s finest. A track in the same vein as Nick Drake that just makes you want to stare off into the distance, feel the breeze across your skin, and wonder what it all means. Lyrically however, it’s a politically minded rally cry. Inspired by Britain’s ongoing political clusterfuck, it takes careful aim at the government’s failings, as well as the darker fringes it’s been encouraging, and shares a call to stand firm against those that put themselves above the people. Each of these things, the airy folk vibe and scathing political commentary, are difficult enough tasks on their own, but to nail both as well as ‘Blue Hounds’ does is a real feat of songwriting.
Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1
Nailing that dreamy bittersweet atmosphere can be tricky, but not for Brooklyn band Looms. On this new single from their forthcoming album The Way Up they make it seem almost effortless. ‘Eclipse’, so named as it was written on a rooftop in the middle of one, is equal parts sad and sanguine, with the latter owing much to the vibrant guitar work of Wilco’s Nels Cline. Written post break-up it feels as much of a celebration of what once was, as it does a lament at the fact that it’s no longer there. Part of the song’s bittersweet charm is in how you can approach it from either perspective; as a warm smile with sadness behind the eyes, or the first rays of hope blooming in someone feeling downtrodden. It can empathise or it can energise, that part is down to you, just listen and see where it leads you.
EPs are the weapon of choice for bands looking to put their name out there and make people sit up and pay attention, and for the ideal example of one done right look no further than I Can Fool Anybody in This Town. LIILY have not only made a real front-runner for our EP of the year, but it’s also one of the most convincing mission statements from a new band that you’re ever likely to hear. With their first EP this group of teenagers from LA have struck the perfect balance between passion and precision. It’s wild and fierce, yet never misses the mark, the musical equivalent of an apex predator.
You can hear them draw influence from all the right places, hints of Queens of the Stone Age in ‘The Weather’, a dash of ‘Royal Blood’ in the chorus of ‘Sold’, even a bit of Arcade Fire in the funky groove of ‘Sepulveda Basin’, but at the same time they manage to put their own stamp on it. What really makes LIILY stand out is the rhythm section. Sure, you have great riffs on the likes of ‘Toro’, but they don’t hog the spotlight as is the case with so many other bands in the scene. The drums very much take the lead on the EP’s title track, with some stunning fills on ‘Sold’ too, while the bass on ‘Nine’ is simply outstanding throughout. With this new release LIILY seem set to be one of the most exciting discoveries of 2019.
LIILY’s debut EP I Can Fool Anybody in This Town is out 8th March and is perfect for fans of Royal Blood, Foals and Nothing But Thieves.
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
Indie Rock | Soul | R&B | Folk
There’s always a place in my heart for artists that are versatile, that aren’t afraid to change-up their style and try new things. Lots caught my attention with her darker side a couple of years back, but her new single ‘Be Naked’ shows a different facet to her talents. As the title suggests this track is a much more intimate and vulnerable affair. The melodies warm and welcoming like the first sun of spring, its lyrics written directly from the heart. Following a journey of finding acceptance with a relationship falling apart, at times feeling almost like a confessional with herself as much as with a lover, it’s as honest and sincere as they come. ‘Be Naked’ shows the kind of emotional maturity that most people, never mind songwriters, fail to show. Being true to and accepting of your deepest feelings is a difficult task, to put it into song even more so, but Lots Holloway has managed it with this latest track.
Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
Sometimes there’s real beauty in chaos. In the waves crashing haphazardly upon the shore, or the unpredictable flicker of flames that we find so bewitching. The new single from Brooklyn’s Russian Baths is certainly chaotic – it’s wild, and fierce, and uncompromising – but also beautiful. ‘Slenderman’, taken from their Penance EP, is an exhilarating ride wherein each element plays a key role. The wild percussion teeters on the precipice of disorder, imparting such a volatile vibe to the track. The relentless pounding bass is like the footfalls of some unseen horror rushing towards you, while the whirlwind guitar bursts forth and spirals towards the heavens. At the centre of it all are the serene hazy vocals, the calm at the eye of the hurricane. Really, this whole track is as mental as it is marvellous.