“I found you when you were sleeping… Don’t wait for me, I cannot love”
As I listened to Stars by Liverpool quartet SeaWitches for the first time, I actually felt alive inside. I could hear my heart beating faster than usual, pounding against my chest. Taken from forthcoming EP ‘Tear Back The Sky’, Jo Herring’s lovelorn vocals dance above unremitting melodies. The contrast between her personal lyrics and the soaring sounds around them is compelling and exquisite. With hints of No Shout’s No Call’s era Electrelane, SeaWitches have for me, produced the track of the year so far. Urgent, romantic and utterly beautiful. Sha Sha la la la.
Evelyn Taylor Hiatt and Nicholas Frampton make up Nashville, Tennessee based folk-wave duo Field Division. Their blissful music runs high on soulful harmonies and rapturous textures, occupying the gulf between the likes of Feist, Bon Iver, Other Lives and Rumours era Fleetwood Mac. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, the vast natural landscape, valleys and rivers of their hometown exert a powerful influence over their sound, producing a grand and expansive effect.
Faultines is exquisite and elegantly arranged. A delicately woven tapestry of guitars, keys and tribal-esque beats carve out an off-kilter, upbeat groove, echoing the triumphant gallop of Ennio Morricone – this is prairie music of the highest order. Hiatt’s enchanting, bittersweet, hook-laden vocals float on a wave of reverb luring you in like a siren – you won’t be able to resist. A flawless opening statement from a band with far-reaching appeal.
Manchester electronica duo Bernard & Edith are to blame for my untidy house. FACT. I had serious plans for a spring clean today… and Henry Hoover is just sat there looking at me with a sadness in his eye. Poppy is one of those songs that makes you drop everything you’re doing, the kind of distraction you’re relieved to have.
It’s felt for a while now that Manchester’s musical resurgence has not been down to one particular movement or specific sound, more a DIY ideology that can be found in pockets of activity across the city. I’ve often likened Whalley Range based vocalist Greta Edith to Grimes with a hint of Coronation Street – she has this genuine warmth and attitude that really sets her apart from everyone else. Poppy is a stunning piece of work, dark and atmospheric – accompanied by the perfect visual representation.
Neon Cloud have, from their base in Tokyo, been weaving their thread throughout the interblogoscape for a wee while now. On the basis of latest EP ‘Scar’ (on the similarly excellent and Japan-based Flau label) it’s obvious why.
Throughout 22, haunting female vocals impart semi-decipherable phrases and mantra atop dense and deceptively complex electronics. It’s a deep and heavy wall of sound, so organically arranged that it’s scarily easy to forget you’re listening to an electronic artist. Completely hypnotic, and effortlessly absorbing.
Hailing from Los Angeles, Whisper Kid is a diverse and experimental musical project fronted by Rhea Tepplim. Content to let the music do the talking Rhea maintains her distance; her SoundCloud profile lists no other band members or collaborators and provides no links to social media, websites or anything that might offer clues in solving the riddle.
The mystical and slow-burning, psych-infused Calliope builds on this enigmatic theme with its opening shroud of amplifier hiss, atmospheric slide guitar and buried lead vocals – it gives little away. There are hints of early Cat Power, The Velvet Underground and The Breeders, especially in the lush Kim Deal-esque vocal harmonies. It’s hypnotic and strikingly pretty, a raw recording brimming with spiritual leanings that rewards repeat listens – art for arts sake and that’s the purest kind there is.
Working For A Nuclear Free City were one of those acts that just seemed to be woven into the very fabric of Manchester, existing in a transitional era with bands like The Longcut, Air Cav, Keith and Nine Black Alps, each helping to push the music scene forward.
Producer/composer Phil Kay formed WFANFC with Gary McClure and after many years of success, both are now working on solo projects. Last year Gary released the emotive Wreaths, a timeless creation with subtle melodies. Phil under the alias King Of The Mountain, is releasing the Zoetrope LP with Melodic Records… and I have to admit I’m blown away by the ambition and gravity of the piece.
Bringing to mind the work of Jon Hopkins; it’s 6 minutes are choreographed with such beauty, I can only compare it to the most delicate ballet dancer building up her routine gracefully before she explodes across the stage leaping with total control towards the finale. Each note, each fragment of sound blissfully dancing against an industrial beat heavy backdrop, colours of noise colliding together perfectly to form it’s spectacular conclusion.
Ungoogleable names are the curse of the new music blogger, and finding information on the internet about a band called Girl Friend and their debut track Perfume is always going to be a tricky proposition… but after a little investigation (and recognition of the singer) it seems Manchester’s The Cold One Hundred have returned and re-invented themselves.
Releasing via YOU Records (previous material from BL_NK SP_C_S and Rose Elinor Dougall would indicate they are going to become more prominent in the next few months), Girl Friend are producing a sound similar in spirit to Liverpool’s Outfit, dreamy textures colliding with fluttering synths and woven together with Wild Beastian vocals. Perfume is at times unsettling but always strangely sensual and romantic: this is stylish and effortlessly crafted pop music.
A few years ago Elliott Williams handed me a demo CD during a Frightened Rabbit gig, his band Airship went on to become a local success story… tracks like ‘Spirit Party’ and ‘Algebra’ propelling them to stadium tours with Biffy Clyro and Editors. I was lucky enough to persuade them to play my basement; I’ll never forget the chaotic scenes as over a hundred people packed into a small room and crowd-surfed to Kids. If I’m honest I was a little disappointed with debut album ‘Stuck In This Ocean’ when it finally emerged. The material felt over-polished/produced, losing a bit of it’s original beauty/edge but fuck, I LOVED it all the same. Sadly it never quite happened for them, with Elliott eventually joining Editors on a permanent basis.
Now, Elliott has returned with an exciting and original direction as Y.O.U (Your Own Universe), producing his new material in Paris for the eclectic Tigersushi label. Heavy Crown is an unexpected (and highly refreshing) cut of danceable electronic pop blended with brooding post-punk. I’ve listened to it repeatedly this last couple of days with it’s weird chorus drilling way down into my head: an absolute triumph.
A few months ago I starting putting music I found (and loved) into a little folder of links, returning to it when I needed inspiration. Today I rediscovered IBV and his stunning EP ‘The Violence of My Land’. The project of Stockholm’s Olle Strandberg; Walls is a curiously uplifting song with disaffected vocals channelling the likes of John Maus and Cold Cave, dark synth pop pulsating heavily in atmospheric waves. On a very primitive level, it’s hard not to be drawn into Strandberg’s world and the almost maniacal joy contained within his misery.
Some artists don’t wait to be discovered, they beat down the doors… demanding we pay them attention. Gothen is perhaps a reminder that the more rewarding listens are often found in music waiting patiently to be revealed.
The vision of Salt Lake City based Evan Blades Jolley, Until They Sail shows a deep awareness of the importance of space within orchestral sounds. Built around beautiful melancholy arrangements, his Fleet Foxian voice is like a beam of sunlight catching the dust in an empty room.