Spotlight!: Winnie Raeder

winnieMusic is about more than just the notes you play. Sometimes music is as much about the notes that you don’t play. It works in much the same way that it does in film. How a moment of silence can build tension or drama, or draw you in to focus attentively on a specific scene. There have been plenty of great show-stealing vocal performances this year, but none are offered up as confidently as those found on Winnie Raeder’s debut EP From Here. The record plays out like a movie scene, an emotional climax wherein this leading lady bares her soul and ensures that you’re invested in her story.

From Here‘s bare bones arrangements pull off the all too rare feat of making it feel as though the whole world falls still to listen with you. Musically each track forms a simple frame of soft acoustic guitar and delicate piano, at the centre of which lies Winnie’s transcendent vocals. From the soulful pleas of ‘Don’t You Dare’ and the electronic tinged harmonies of ‘Still’, to the powerful chorus of ‘I Wear A Ghost’ and the endlessly heartbreaking ‘Are You Waiting?’ with its calls of “is heaven half as beautiful as you?”. This Danish born singer/songwriter has a one in a million voice. Winnie’s take on heartbreak is as articulate as it is passionate, a true display of an artist pouring their very soul into their work.

Winnie’s debut EP From Here is out now and is perfect for fans of Sampha, Joni Mitchell and the softer side of Jeff Buckley.

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Top Tracks: Western States – The Duke

I’ve always found it curious that most of our books, films and TV shows focus on character driven storytelling, but rarely our music. That just makes songs like ‘The Duke’ that manage to pull it off all the more memorable. In telling the tale of a boxer refusing to take a fall in spite of the dodgy deal he’s made, Western States paint a vivid scene with their rich imagery and create a character to empathise with thanks to their adept songwriting. This lead single from their forthcoming debut album From The Centre Out, released 19th July, channels Springsteen in his prime thanks to its lush Americana sound and potent hooks (pun definitely intended). The band clearly pulled no punches when it came to crafting this slice of heartland heaven. A genuine delight in every way.

Spotlight!: Night Market

NM 1Different forms of media are better suited at evoking certain emotions. Sometimes a particular indescribable sensation arises that is almost complete unique to a specific art form. Cinema has an uncanny way of capturing these obscure emotions that we can’t quite put our fingers on, one of which is the melding of bliss and sorrow. Moments that break you and bring a tear to your eye every time, yet also so beautiful and fulfilling that it keeps bringing you back for more. Pixar are the masters at this; like saying goodbye to fading friends in Inside Out, or the remembering of lost loved ones at the end of Coco. Though it’s a phenomenon best suited to cinema, there are some rare moments where music alone can capture the same feeling, and few examples come closer than White Seasons.

Though the new EP from LA based duo Night Market is drenched in heartwarming melodies, there’s an underlying sadness that surreptitiously seeps its way through like subliminal messaging. Listening to this EP is like remembering the good times you had with someone that’s no longer a part of your life, finding joy in the sadness and sadness in the joy. A big part of its power lies in the guitar work, which is some of the finest you’ll find this year. Not by being flashy or complex, but by just hitting the right tone that resonates with you deep down. Whether its in the lush Americana of the title track, the bright folk of ‘All Eyes’, or the jaunty ‘Rome’ with its bluesy solo, Night Market really know how to strike a chord with you with this latest release.

Fans of Death Cab for Cutie, Wild Pink and Sufjan Stevens should check out Night Market’s new EP White Seasons, out now.

 

Top Tracks: Pinero|Serene – Take My Soul

It’s one thing to make a great hook, one that stops you in your tracks and grabs your attention right away. It’s another thing entirely to craft a compelling atmosphere that seeps beneath your skin and grows on you a little more with each passing moment. It takes a lot of disparate elements working together in perfect harmony, which is something that this London based alt pop duo have nailed with their dark and stunning debut single. From the intricate and expressive bass, and the rising tension in the drums, to the stark monochrome imagery; it all comes together to build a vibe that succeeds in being both dreamy and sinister. With an air of confidence and a smoky veil of mystery, this entrancing offering is the kind of menacing, slow-burning pop record that you never knew you needed.

Top Tracks: HOAX – Could

It’s easy to get lost in the day to day. To lead a life focused on just surviving rather than thriving. Going through the motions until regret eventually hits. Not only does the new single from New York’s HOAX touch on this issue with their empathetic lyricism, but it also gives you the opportunity to thrive, for just a few minutes, in the rich sound they have created. Combining slick indie pop hooks with soulful R&B melodies, ‘Could’ pulls out all the stops. This first single from their forthcoming debut album b?,¬†boasting a striking guitar solo and a wonderfully accomplished and animated rhythm section, shows that they are ardent followers of their own advice. ‘Could’ simply oozes joie de vivre. It’s a celebration of the beauty of being that you can’t help but join in with.

Top Tracks: Ren – Spencer Street

It’s curious how memories, even the most important defining experiences, fade over time. For most of us the finer details never seem to last. The scent of spring flowers, the way her eyes sparkled in the sunlight, the feeling of her hand in yours; all doomed to disappear in time. What lingers on, the spark of a memory that refuses to fade, is the way that moment made you feel. That’s what’s captured in Ren’s nostalgic look back on a former relationship in ‘Spencer Street’. It embodies the feeling of being in love and loved in return. The warm glow of knowing that there is a place and person that makes you feel at home, that makes you feel like you belong. Close your eyes and you can lose yourself in the sensation that all is well with the world. Even when time moves on, love fades, and the finer details get lost by the wayside, that feeling remains tucked away safe and sound deep down.

Top Tracks: The Lighthouse – Cover Story

“Keep your eyes on me” seems a fitting refrain for the new single from Belgian indie pop outfit The Lighthouse, as ‘Cover Story’ is a song that demands your attention. A track that revels in stealing the spotlight with its ever present pop sensibilities. Taken from their forthcoming debut album Whatever Comes Our Way, out 27th September, it is aglow with infectious melodies and shimmering synths. It carries the pop banner proudly but does so with an air of authenticity and maturity. Channelling the likes of Two Door Cinema Club and Clean Cut Kid, this simple but striking offering is a definite earworm. All it takes is one listen and this track will be your faithful companion all day long, its melodies weaving their way through your thoughts.