London based Lo-Fi duo Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck make sophisticated and seductive lounge pop. Charming and instantly likeable, Elephant‘s sound is a catchy and intuitive monochrome pastiche of French new wave and disco influences; all studied cool, their music packs a stylish, cinematic punch.
It’s impossible not to be smitten with Statuesque‘s lyrically wholesome nonchalance. Rivas has a wonderfully sweet and effortless vocal delivery, each dreamy phrase cascades through a wash of Hammond style organs and the steady, soulful pulse of the rhythm section. If you’re a fan of the likes of Nouvelle Vague and Charlotte Gainsbourg you’ll be enamoured with Elephant.
Debut album Sky Swimming available from www.thisiselephant.com
This most pleasant of earworms has been carrying me joyously through the wind, rain, sleet and cold-white-bouncing-sky-bullets for the best part of a week now, and despite it’s obviously sunshiny persuasion, I can’t see it relenting for some time yet.
Gunns hail from Fremantle, Australia with a penchant for perfect pop and plenty of reverb of the old school variety. Imagine Pixies at their surfiest or Temple Songs circumnavigating a 60s echo chamber and you’re already halfway towards kissing the golden sand, grabbing a board, and jumping out into the bright blue sea. This being one of their slower numbers, there’s a lovely swinging bassline thrown in for good measure too.
By the way, this is ‘only’ a B-side. Good grief.
You may not be aware of the C2 programme tucked away in the night-time hours of the BBC Radio Cymru schedules, but each show is a charming and warm celebration of Welsh indie and alternative bands. The number of unknown gems uncovered for me by C2 runs into double figures, and for that, I truly say diolch am fawr.
It was thanks to C2 one iPlayerd morning that I was introduced to the enigmatic and elusive W H Dyfodol. He has been part of the Welsh underground for years, and may have hit peoples collective radar under the guise of Land of Bingo, from whom Lufthansa is a beautiful highlight. Now working under the name Y Pencadlys (Welsh for The Headquarters), he is perfectly cast as the lo-fi electronica champ hidden behind shadows in publicity photographs.
The new single, released through the highly enthusiastic Peski Records, combines masked lyrics over discordant echoes and bubbling beats, as the melancholia of the title makes way for a lingering sense of release and relief. That often repeated title, Mae Pawb Yn Haeddu Glaw Yn Waeth Na Fi, is perhaps the least expected earworm of the winter, the distinctive Welsh language working well against the occasionally harsh cuts of the music below. A new album, as yet untitled, is expected in the Spring.
Photograph by Natalie Curtis
As anyone who has witnessed the mighty Brown Brogues live will attest to…. they are pretty hard to ignore. The two-piece consisting of Mark Vernon (guitar) and Ben Mather (drums) bury addictive singalongs into raw unadulterated garage fuzz. A huge part of Manchester’s thriving DIY community, it’s beginning to feel like we can no longer contain them.
New album Triflin’ (Stream here) is an evolution of their sound. More defined, more measured in its approach but still exuberant, full of distortion. Lead single Split Disc is a perfect example with a dirty, delirious expanse that’s both comforting and disorienting. Brown Brogues might punch you in the stomach but they’ll do it with a smile.
Brown Brogues have announced the following shows:
5 Bristol Stag and Hounds
10 Newcastle Brew Dog
11 Stockton The Green Room
12 Edinburgh Henrys
17 Liverpool Sound
18 Sheffield The Bowery (Free Show)
19 Birmingham Secret Greasy Location
23 Manchester The Castle Hotel
24 London The Lock Tavern (Free Show)
25 Bath The Royal Oak
26 Plymouth Tiki Bar and Grill
8 Southampton Lennons
Manchester based musician Sophie Galpin has had an interesting career these last few years, being involved with two local success stories PINS (drums) and Embers (violin). With that in mind, I was excited to discover this relatively unheard solo material from the multi-instrumentalist on soundcloud, which is devastatingly good.
Trouble is a masterclass in songwriting: beautifully structured with subtle orchestration and a voice that shines throughout.
Chicago’s Lillerne Tapes netlabel is increasingly becoming quite the source of sonic delights, ranging from explorative ambient works to psychedelic bedroom pop and everything one might imagine circumnavigating such headspaces. This example is no exception, as Jakarta’s Strange Mountain aka Marcel Thee provides us with five achingly magical pieces on the limited cassette release “Slow Midnight”.
The choice of the cassette format, while experiencing a curious little resurgence amongst a number of hipster electronic labels and improvised noise terrorists, here seems absolutely fitting, as Thee’s distinctively wobbly clouds of elongated synthesized classicism are themselves heavily reliant on tape manipulation. The rare joy of these creations is that rather than the techniques themselves being a means to an end, the dense layers of chords, squeaks, bubbles and hisses are emotionally involving, consciously personal and immersive; arrangements which exist to be enjoyed rather than endured or simply ‘experienced’.
I have tried searching for adequate comparisons, and found such a quest to be rather tiring and ultimately fruitless. The most obvious benchmarks for involving ambient music would be the likes of Eno, Stars Of The Lid, Loscil, but here Thee seems to transcend his forebearers. There are intricate fragments of sound which lead me to remenisce elements of Radiohead’s more interesting work – some of the transitional sections of Kid A or the more experimental of the OK Computer-era B-sides perhaps. Ultimately though, “Slow Midnight” is unique, and all the more extraordinary a work for it.