Lancaster’s Lake Komo appeared to me like a speck of sunlight breaking through the clouds. Although only in demo form, Ritual is a beautiful piece of work; folk music with an experimental edge. Vocally it starts off earthy and wounded before becoming something more synthetic.. a clear hint that they don’t want to be confined by the restrictions of organic instrumentation. Fans of Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver will find much to admire in their musicianship… rich and layered arrangements which carefully balance these alternative urges with pop sensibility. You get the feeling they could go ‘big’ if they really wanted to… the emotion is certainly there for them to work with; full of frustration and longing right up until it’s conclusion.
It’s always dangerous to fall in love so easily… but in this case I think it’s going to work out just fine.
Chris Horkan who runs Hey! Manchester is an instantly recognisable figure around town, with his viking-esque beard and gentle frame (although it should be noted that beards are not unusual for Manchester promoters). He was one of the first people to give me advice when I first starting putting on events and I must have listened, because here we both are, still doing what we love. Looking through his Sounds From The Other City line-up this year, one name immediately stands out: Gay.
Largely ungoogleable but as their name suggests, Gay have a very carefree art-rock style… Talking Heads meets Grizzly Bear? The Toronto based act will be making a rare appearance on these shores and I’m looking forward to seeing how their songs will translate live. I think they could be perfect for a sunny day; poetic pop music with a slightly unpredictable nature.
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.
Lovable New York indie quintet Caveman mix melodic, reverb drenched atmospherics with loose, tribal rhythms and starry eyed harmonies. Imagine Other Lives in a wrestling match with Elbow and Grizzly Bear and somewhere in the thick of it all you’ll find Caveman. They ooze maturity without lacking edge and despite the moniker there’s nothing primitive about their sound. Interestingly the band play guitars crafted by their own axe man Jimmy Carbonetti – yours to own if you’ve got a few grand to spare.
Where’s The Time, a cross between a hymn and a rousing shanty, builds gradually and patiently, sweeping you up in its grace. Front man Matthew Iwanusa’s hook-laden vocals sound almost angelic. A warm, big-hearted performer in the mould of Guy Garvey, when he’s not singing and strumming away on a guitar, he’s making mincemeat out of a floor tom. Awash with keys and guitars, this music comes straight from the heart and sticks in your head.
“I’m not a smart man, though I’ve convinced a few, to follow me through fire”
First Person Plural is the latest project from Mike Robinson (formerly of Annuals).
Debut EP Gold Wasp is an assured set of recordings worthy of your time, with introspective lyricism wrapped around a warm glow. Mercy in particular, is a song I find myself coming back to… Robinson’s vocals sharing the same oaken rasp with Bonnie Prince Billy, a rich melancholy contained within. The track is built around fine musicianship, with dusky country guitar and The National’esque chord progression and melodic flourishes.
Pitching up somewhere between Grizzly Bear and a less bombastic dEUS, Madrid’s Nothing Places offers up a veritable smorgasbord of wonky yet cinematic indie folk-pop.
Throughout the whole of his self-titled debut, Nothing Places’ main hombre Emilio Saiz exhibits an enviably varied range of skills; aside from intricate guitar work and exquisite arrangement flourishes, not least the ability to write interesting songs with a distinct perspective on humanity and our associated planetary predicament without ever becoming convoluted or hectoring.
On another note, the animated video for No Time (Yeyei Gomez), is frankly stunning, a visual poetry of the highest order.
Forget the 100 million euros, if we can find Madrid another Gareth Bale, can we have more of this please?