I need to get in the habit of queuing these. Work has been insanely busy and it’s just not been too easy to locate the necessary time to post every day, which is a ridiculous level on my current schedule.
Enough of the excuses let’s get to the good stuff. I was hiking around The Hype Machine, sick of my recent Spotify playlists, when I came across this track by lo-fi bedroom pop unknown Christian Alexander. After a quick google, there is no discernible label or significant web presence and yet here is a gem of bedroom love songs, sang to a cracked ceiling in some mopey flat-share and accidentally leaked out into the world (potentially, I thoroughly have no idea, I’m just imagining). The track is mournful and surrenders the agency of ourselves to external forces whilst attempting to maintain the connections with others that makes life worth living.
Simple guitar rhythms accompany a fragile and delicate vocal procedure that is not dissimilar to the vocals only Bon Iver tracks “Woods” and “715 – CR∑∑KS.” But instead of building to lush production values, Christian Alexander roots in a shared millennial experience with lines such as: “I know I’m not what you needed but you came through anyway” and “Show me you’ll fill all the spaces a pill couldn’t do for me.”
It’s brutally honest and wonderfully melancholic. One of the best hidden gems of the year.
Whenever I start posting with any legitimate regularity, my trusted email sources start to peak their heads over the trenches that are media email inboxes and sling some more class acts my way.
I normally don’t care for the moniker of “psychedelic rock.” Not only is it obscenely popular with young up-and-coming bands but it also seems to mean nothing. Does it refer to Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd? Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s copper-plated rhythms? Fuzz boxes and colourful album sleeves? Incomprehensible noise? Nobody knows. So, when I received an email about an upcoming psych band I was apprehensive.
Turns out I had nothing to be worried about. GRDNS (gardens, get it?) latest release “Roulette Love Gun” is a jangly indie-pop tune dialled into a fuzz box and twisted through blues rhythms. As a track it almost feels as if two bands have collaborated on stage as distorted guitar solos fabricate themselves within the layers of dreamy shoegaze. Leeds is a northern hub for rock and roll, boozy life decisions and early 20s shenanigans. GRDNS successfully soundtrack the chaotic, symbiotic between stage fantasy and intelligent pop structure to create an excellent summer starter track.
Produced by James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Rhodes) the single is out today and is available on all platforms.
Whenever I get back into this, it takes me forever to start scrolling through the Hype Machine and my own listening habits until I find something that I’m actually in to and want to share. Inevitably I end up posting stuff already in other places, sorry if I’m simply an echo chamber for the time being.
London continues to be grey, miserable and horrifically busy as we slowly slide towards summer but that has yet to dampen my optimism for the coming season. Every spring, like clockwork, I hit a nostalgic turn in my listening habits. It may be Britpop and it’s attendant connotations with a mid 90s Steve, all big forehead and Thomas the Tank Engine toys; or it could be 70s classic rock and my teenage aspiration to be the next Jimmy Page. This year however, I have delved into the last time indie music in Britain was huge, the NME playlists of 2007-2009. In between organising through my desire to be a Libertine or a Franz Ferdinand backup dancer, I spent those years relentlessly copying the single stringed riffs into my own songs on adolescent heartbreak, sadness and sorrow.
Wilderado are a callback to this era of musical endeavour, with a decidedly US flavour. The LA based four piece in their single “Sorrow” dance around simple single string combinations before building into the large choruses that befit the era once it crossed over into the mainstream. It may not be the new Jeff Buckley or Radiohead, but a thoroughly enjoyable callback to when guitar music was the pop genre de jour. Whilst simple and unpretentious, the track gains a maturity via it’s delicate control of volume and degree of restraint. Whilst undeniably uncomplicated, the track’s control of euphoria throws me back to my late teens, where all I wanted was to be in a band that people wanted to listen to.
For fans of Paper Lions. The new EP is out May 25th if this tickles your pickle.
Two days in a row! I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this productive or capable.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of”growing up” lately. For many, it’s a cynical rejection of our personal passions, infatuations, hobbies and identities for the eventual embracing of ‘adult responsibility.’ For others, it can be the distillation of these things into something we can use to interact with the wider world. Almost like constructing a plaster cast of ones own face to then interact with society. The single inevitability is that we outgrow the state of adolescence in which our identity is our primary priority. Whereas the child wonders “who am I?” the adult questions “what the fuck am I doing?”
The narrator in Flora Cash’s single 18 Dollars is wondering something similar but through the air of perfect hindsight. “What the fuck were we doing?” Although some of us look on heartbreak with a nostalgic kindness, so often we chastise ourselves and are subsequently embarrassed by our naivety. Flora Cash excellently capture the moment of recollection through the opening line “I can still remember just the way you tasted // pack of cigarettes in a basement.” Taking the narrative back to a period of instant recollection, swooning arpeggio-ed guitars drop the listener delicately into the misery that is our formative memories. For all the youth in the world can’t mitigate the utter misery that early heartbreak can render when all you are is all you identify with.
Amongst laughing at ones own history “I can still get high just thinking about us wasted // 18 dollars for a case kid // It’s all we had… it’s all we knew” a listener becomes part of a world in which youthful heartbreak is ancient, immature and evidently still incredibly poignant. Because the last time you truly identified solely with your identity is when someone can really hurt it the most. Lines sung in a suggestive scoff are offset by highly polished crescendos of harmonies that slice through themselves with heavy piano drops, encapsulating defining formative moments.
Shout out to the entirety of the Hype Machine’s contributors for getting to this one before me.
For once, I have a legitimate reason for my absence of posting. Having recently got a new job in Central London, I have been spending the last few months adapting to the fact I am now a consummate adult and the tangled web of responsibilities that comes with. Not that I’ll let that deter me, we all have to grow up and progress at some point. I am determined to be the art-world equivalent of James Bond that I always dreamed of being.
Having said that, on some days that is easier than others. Today is certainly one of those. You could be forgiven, upon looking out your front door on this miserable Monday, that it was more likely to be mid January as opposed to the last day of April. As my girlfriend (who is currently in Florida no less) has noted previously, “I must be somewhere in London, I must be loving my life in the rain.” On days like today, I struggle with the London impulse of grabbing the day by it’s tired old lapels and instead find myself wanting to float through the Oxford Street crowds, carried via the throng with my toes barely grazing the ground. A comforting apathy that borders on enjoyable melancholy. The same feeling you get contemplating a lost friend with a cup of coffee in a window seat.
Fortunately, FAVELA‘s latest single “Call My Name” can at least lend a soundtrack to this somewhat self-indulged fantasy. The Leeds-based producer and vocalist has created a lo-fi electronic track of exquisite longing that soundtracks your own melancholic montage that occurs between your ears. Beginning with slow simple guitar lines that set the tone for a wonderfully meditative soliloquy of lives lived in unwanted isolation. With lines such as, “I confess, I confess I am a writer // With schewed ambition // But holy visions,” this track expertly provides a message to my mood when it rains on Mondays. It is a track that expertly defines what it means to be in London and really, you’d rather still be in bed, with a lover or just endlessly circling the tube ignoring the outside world. Keep an eye out for the debut LP and whet your appetite with this frankly beautiful song.
Over the years I have made it no secret that I have an obsession with Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit. I subject everybody to their back catalogue. My girlfriend has been forced to listen to misanthropic layered moody men in my grad school bedroom. My Mother was subjected to hopeless croons of love lost in her car as she taxied me to my various adolescent commitments and my Father, God bless him, even trekked around the country to take me to their shows where I was caught between shyness and a fear of being uncool which resulted in a refusal to dance. Something my close friend, charity worker and fellow Frabbit fan still adheres to.
Depressed that I stood little chance to see them on their 10 year anniversary tour of their breakout record I have been obsessively stalking the band on Instagram hoping for an immediate resale when I saw a post referencing a new project that Scott and Grant Hutchison (frontman and drummer respectively of Frightened Rabbit) have been working on and the result is this debut single by Mastersystem. A collab between the Apprehensive Bunny brothers and fellow brotherly duo Justin and James Lockey. If anyone is expecting the Frightened Rabbit Kid A (something Scott joked about in relation to their most recent record Painting of a Panic Attack) will instead be transported into a rambunctious trip through 90s grunge, punk sensibilities and the trademark handling of lyrical delivery that has lead me to refer drunkenly that Scott Hutchison is Scotlands pop culture Robbie Burns.
The debut single, Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived, doesn’t so much blow away the cobwebs as render them disintegrated. The track starts inauspiciously. An early guitar riff and vocal delivery wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Frabbit track. However, the track soon explodes into Soundgardenesque crescendoes that give rise to a recorded version of the endlessly energetic live shows. I cannot help but imagine the members locked in a garage, Gibson Les Pauls slung over their shoulders, channelling the adolescent rage and anger that never truly leaves us into an entirely new project.
The debut album Dance Music is out 4/6 via Physical Education Recordings.
Live dates that I will defiitely see you all at:
04/25 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
04/26 – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK @ The Cluny
04/27 – Glasgow, UK @ The Art School
04/28 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
04/30 – Birmingham, UK @ Birmingham O2 Institute 3
05/01 – London, UK @ Oslo
“Don’t leave me here, especially not with her.” How many times has one of us said or thought this? I can think of at least a dozen women (and at least 50 blokes for that matter) who I would not want to be left with. Whether that be for my physical safety or otherwise. The Academic, Irish ragamuffins that they are, begin their three-minute dissertation on the matter with that very statement. Dissertation might be a bit grand, perhaps potential hit single entitled “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” is closer to the mark.
The track is a classic example of post-good-NME indie guitar music. Driven but clean sounding guitars bounce off thickened bass loops that flip the momentum of the track that seems to be all pervasive ever since “Pumped Up Kicks” hit. The Academic manage to have a more descendent momentum where bass guitars pick up threads that are allowed to lose themselves in endeavour by driven guitar leads twist, riff and staccato into place.
Indie music is one of those things that’s easy to do but fucking hard to do well. Sure you can learn a few chords get some mates over and write a terrible song about that girl you fancy (note this is what I did), or you can craft a pop masterpiece that layers itself expertly throughout. Like 5 sewing machines producing a single tapestry, it all comes together in the end.
Why Can’t We Be Friends? is out today so grab it on all those usual platforms eh?