Earlier this year, London’s Real Lies dropped the house influenced North Circular – a song which beautifully captured the contradictory mood of late night city life, with it’s clear sense of possibility… but also a deep unwavering loneliness. There is a rich, almost romantic lyricism to be found here, delivered in such evocative fashion that you can’t help feeling you are there with them, looking back but always moving forwards. Interestingly Local Hero produced the original version of North Circular, so this remix unveiled today, is actually a self-remix.
I’m finding it difficult to express just how much I love The Way Down Leering, recently revealed by London musician Slows Down. Heavy in both ideas and instrumentation, this ambitious piece grows patiently and hypnotically, providing moments of minimalist beauty before turning into something far bigger.
The individual work of Alexander Hawthorne, you find at the heart of it, an emotional and melancholy vocal that at times feels close to giving up. Referencing both the dark psychedelica of Spiritualized and the experimental gloom of Swans, The Way Down Leering contains a sea of noise, and you should dive right in.
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.
London’s Flo Fairweather is one of a handful of artists that I’ve found myself truly devoted to this year. With each new track she reveals, I see a growing confidence in her ideas. Heartbreakingly beautiful vocals combine seductively with the minimal and atmospheric electronica.
Walls is a revelation: closing in on 6 minutes long, its echoing beats and bleeps build patiently around that voice… at the centre of everything. Like the moon glowing in a cold night sky.
I feel a very real, unexplainable connection with Flo – I want others to feel the same way.
From bands to festivals, psych is in vogue. So much so that the bandwagon’s already crammed tight with new artists seeking recognition and acceptance. But London based psych-pop quartet Younghusband are exciting and easy to embrace.
On the title track from their debut album Dromes, Euan Hinshelwood’s repetitive and infectious brand of songwriting hooks you in from the get go. Feverish guitars collide with a punchy bass line and some minimalist, tight and effective drumming. Produced by Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter/Silver Jews), Hinshelwood’s voice comes over distinctive and fuzzy-sweet – all dressed up in west coast style harmonies. Chords and melodies churn and crash together in kaleidoscopic waves, peaking like an acid trip – looping and swelling in pulsing repetition, heightening the sonic experience. It’s an addictive formula. All dynamic tension and eventually a sense of release by way of a quirky Syd Barrett-esque psych-noise freak out. When this musical genre is no longer flavour of the month, Dromes will still stand out for being really fucking good.
London teenager Shivum Sharma has been receiving plenty of attention recently… and for once it’s justified. With a vocal ability that belies his age, bringing to mind Perfume Genius and Antony Hegarty, the power comes from his expression, tone and intimacy. The music mirrors this, subtle in its beauty and perfectly formed. Flicker, a bedroom recording, is the kind of song an artist could spend years trying to find. I get the impression this song found him.
One of my most exciting discoveries this year is 20 year old South Londoner Florence Fairweather. From the moment her voice emerged on The Bell Jar my heart was rendered with an overwhelming sense of relief – this is an artist I can understand and respond to.
The Bell Jar’s haunting instrumentation sleepily breaks you down and pulls you apart – a documentation of tension and desire, uncloaked and revealed.
There’s something very mysterious about the lo-fi electronic songsmithery of Milla aka Amygdala. Perhaps it’s the lack of any discernable biography, maybe the music itself. Certainly, tracks like Battery are beautifully constructed – like great modern architecture – yet quirky enough to leave an indelible print upon your soul. And unlike so many more-serious-than-thou electronic hipsters, there’s a cutting sense of humour at play too; “I wanted to feel your energy / but I’ve just licked a battery”, like a great lost Mark E Smith lyric but with an added dose of self-deprecation for good measure.
In Amygdala’s creations there are many similarities to those of Liverpool psych-folksters Stealing Sheep, not least the joyous approach to harmony, sparse arrangements and affinity for uncomplicated synth sounds. It’s wickedly engaging and I sincerely hope we get to hear more.
Its 2am.. I’m in bed eating blackberries and stumbling around soundcloud looking for something magical. Often these searches end with me falling asleep in awkward positions, this one has ended with the stunning voice of London’s Rea Snape.
Without wishing to put too much pressure on such a young artist, I’m pretty convinced it won’t be long before Snape strikes gold. The Speed Of Light is her strongest self penned work, beautifully arranged with vocal tones reminiscent of Adele… and that’s a huge compliment by the way.
The distinct vocal of Alice Fox is one that should be recognisable to many in Manchester, and without delving too much into our history, Avec Sans are a band very close to my heart. Our loss however was London’s gain, and this electronic duo have quickly built a reputation for producing effortlessly cool pop music that is not only accessible but beyond fucking brilliant.
So, its fair to say I was pretty damn excited to finally see the debut video for Hold On, directed by Sing J Lee, who has previously worked with my beloved PINS. Imagine The Postal Service meets Chvrches and you might be getting close to understanding just how good Avec Sans are… its timeless and classic, and as easy to dance to as it is to fall in love with.