Monday, 29 November 2010

#4: First Rate People

Artist of the Day #4:
First Rate People

I have discussed this band before, back in the bewilderingly sporadic and schizophrenic days of New Narcotics, and will continue to do so until every last man, woman and child (who drift by this blog) fall in love with them. They are a band from Toronto (the Canadian musical scene manages to churn out such effortless melody makers from time to time- Arcade Fire, Feist, New Pornographers, Bryan Adams(!)) who have spawned a musical free-for-all that churns up beautifully bop-along pop and heartfelt soul, then occasionally lobs in a grenade of electronica or folk. And yet still manage to maintain a consistently delicious sound that transcends genre.

First Rate people produce a range of songs that stretch from heartbreaking acoustic pluckings through to soul-sampling indie R&B. 'Orion' samples a snatch of 'Betcha By Golly Wow' by the Delfonics which manages to sidle up so gorgeously alongside the vocals and synth blares, it sounds like the two were recorded side by side, arm in arm (the fact that this is one of my favourite soul songs may influence my LOVE for this song and band).

But the likes of the dancefloor ditty 'Girl's Night', the electropop pulse of 'Gentleman's Club' and the deliriously weepworthy 'It's Never Not Happening' all add up to make these Canadians possibly my favourite band of the year. And all this without a proper release. I ache and screech for something to be crafted and pushed into my face at high speed from this group, and WISH AND DREAM AND HOPE that they find their way to London, hopefully to my house, to play me some of their music on our British shores.

For now, download a bunch of their tracks from Last FM here and simply fall in lust, love and longing for First Rate People.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

#3: Yamon Yamon

Artist of the Day #3:
Yamon Yamon

A math rock sensibility feels very much part of an outdated fashion, from a mid 2000's scene that flourished and faded as quickly. The likes of Foals have gone on to develop their sound into something with longer, less noodly abstractions, garnering acclaim and new fans in the process. But, and it's a big but, in music (as in all art) consider no form, genre or style dead. A fresh approach, process or even just a slice of something damn good can bring back whatever you assumed lost.

Which brings me to Yamon Yamon, a Swedish band who peddle a relaxed math rock, resembling a stoner parallel of Minus the Bear. They tread the line between pop and post rock, managing to evoke the memory of a handful of bands from your adolescence whilst maintaining a distance up and away from those teenage addictions. The smoothly nonchalant pace feels like a mature act honing their musical talent after years of practice, evident in the subtle overdrive, fingertapping percussion and sparky guitar riffs, jabbing and poking in when suddenly required.

Vocally, lead singer Jon Lennblad possesses an aural quality that sedates and subdues in equal fashion, effortless underneath the delicious array of chords and hooks. 'Alonso' opens the new album This Wilderlessness and lays bare the sheer expression, understated emotional punch and drifting peacefulness that make Yamon Yamon utterly listenable at any point of the day. Album highlights include the ridiculously rhythmic 'Fast Walker' and the impeccably restrained 'No Depression'.

Check out the new album This Wilderlessness HERE and, if you like what you hear (and why shouldn't you!) it is only five English pounds.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

#2: Matthew and the Atlas

Artist of the Day #2:
Matthew and the Atlas

Americana folk should be seen as the bigger, bolder and brasher brother to the recent surge of British Mumford and Marling folk. For some reason, the home nation of Bob Dylan manages to evoke a stronger sense of true heritage when it comes to bedraggled vocals, steadily cautious guitar pickings and an array of traditional percussion.

So, to see a London band, with a vocalist from Aldershot, swell with folk stylings that so vividly recall dusty, backwater Wyoming wilderness, the split between Americana and British folk begins to shake and shatter in the wake of growling vocals about life and love. Matthew & the Atlas are fronted by Mathew Hegarty, a singer who expels a voice so mired in husk and whiskey, managing to resonate an American accent without the usual nasal schtick.

It is difficult to understand how such experience in terms of lyrical content, vocal strain and melodic meandering can spurn from such a young group of British musicians, but it is simply wonderful to listen to regardless. The Nick Drake-like purr of 'Come Out of the Woods' is singed with a slow burning flicker of soul and sadness, whilst 'Beneath The Sea' feels like Tom Waits with a taste for world music.

Give them a listen and maybe pop along to see them at the Luminaire on the 16th December, I shall see thee there.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Carpe Diem!

Artist of the Day #1:
Heinali and Matt Finney

Every now and again, two artists come together to form something spectacular. A great duo can produce something that digs into the musical soul of a listener and wrench or raise the spirit. Heinali is a Ukrainian composer whilst Matt Finney is a poet from Alabama, and the power of technology allows them to construct a sound that blurs the lines between poetry, spoken word, ambience, classical and cinematic cacophanies.

Heinali crafts a resonance that echoes the likes of Vangelis, Clint Mansell and Explosions in the Sky, but twists everything into a skewered sonic perspective of audible distress and emotion. The power lies in an intelligent minimalism, such as taking a simple, rapid piano line on the likes of 'Lemonade', the title track from the 'Lemonade EP', and overlaying it with an aura of distortion and some hushed unexplainable booming.

Matt Finney uses words with wanton precision, creating deep chasms of thought and deliberation with mere mutterings. And these chasms are dark, dank places that dig deep into the twilight of the mind, wrenching at the heart and tormenting anyone with a sense of empathy. This doesn't stop them reaching out to you though, beauteous and powerful in form and stripped of all shields.

Go ahead and sit in silence with nothing but Heinali & Matt Finney for company, and go ahead and purchase the two records on offer, including the bold, bleak fuzz of new release 'Conjoined'. It is a pay as you wish plan but a few quid thrown their way is much, much, much deserved, and I hope you music lovers agree.

Friday, 19 November 2010

A Sprinkling of Sounds...

2 FREAKING MONTHS! 2 gosh darn tooting months without the net thanks to the terrible bureaucracy behind the phone lines at Virgin.

BUT onwards and upwards and forever forward into music and melody; I AM IN LONDON and finally able to listen to new bands at the touch of a button so here is a quick, crammed catchup of bands I can highly recommend to anyone who bothers to read this again....


Previously known as Wap Wap Wow, now known as Rhosyn, whatever name they go by these Oxfordians (Oxfordites?) concoct a heady mix of archaic melody and choral ditty. The strings that braid the music together form the crux of a wonderfully quixotic sound, stitched into place with a meld of vocals perfectly poised to melt together.



Aimee Bea sounds like what I imagine Kate Nash would sound like if she could really sing (no disrespect to either artist named, I super mega promise...). Such a sweet melancholy that recalls a Joni Mitchell ethos with a distinctly adolescent British vibe. Sometimes the simple is simply effective, evident in the delightful strum and effortless strain of 'June'.

Aimee Bea


Another singer-songwriter up to bat now, straight out of Brighton and with a surprisingly alluring voice that nestles in the recesses of the mind rather snugly. A creative approach to rhythym and cadence as well as an arty eye really shines with the work of Jade Hopcroft. The obsessively simple hook and video for 'Would If You Could' follows you around for days.

Jade Hopcroft


Aulos are a twopiece from Hereford who churn out cosmically aware geek rock with pounding drums and insane little guitar riffs, hurtling along with breaknerd speed. Simply having a song called 'Nicholas Rage' resonates highly within the pleasure synapses of my mind but these guys manage to maintain that such pleasure throttles back and forth as spiralling symphonies hammer their way through your skull.



Shoes and Socks Off is simply stripped down, melodic, wonderfully lyrical modern alt pop and consists of a lone singer songwriter, Tobias Hayes who was formerly the frontman of Meet Me In St Louis. Nowadays, he takes an unconventional approach to the singer-songwriter schtick and throws together rather rudimentary sounds to form something altogether wholesome in it's musical approach yet manages to burn with a lyrical and vocal delicacy and intensity.

Shoes and Socks Off


Time for some indie technicality with Rooftops, a Washington based group who do the whole indie tech rock thing with some finess and flourish, brandishing beats and riffs with the precision of a mad musical scientist. Add a dash of suitably comforting vocals and you have the perfect recipe for any Winter blues in the form of a wonderfully uplifting bit of instrumental exploration.



ENOUGH for noooow...expect more over the weekend...KEEP your ears peeled...