Monday, 31 January 2011

#18: Escapists

New Narcotic of the Day #18:

I have no idea where Escapists escaped from (blah-bad-punning-time) but wherever it is, I am damn sure they are missing the group of vivacious four young males who hail from London and craft a melodious mixture of indie rock and upbeat folk pop, stuck together with a confident sense and sensibility, barricading itself in the riffs and percussive elements of their tracks.

'Longest Day ' begins by moving into Arcade Fire territory with it's steadily expanding instrumentation, touching the memory synapses in just the right way, before moving into something slightly harsher, in the vein of We Were Promised Jetpacks. 'New York' is an ode to my future home (if I have anything to do with it, god damn it!), spinning out a catchy tale of Big Apple romance, whilst 'Ghosts' is a Warpaint-esque drift through ethereal , low-key plucking and harmoniously haunting vocal strains that end by floating ever upwards to the heavens.

Escapists have a bunch of demos to absorb and a host of gigs upcoming in the capital, including a show at the World's End on February 17th.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

#17: Melted Toys

New Narcotic of the Day #17:
Melted Toys

Music that is mired in the the indie muck, full of moping vocal stretches and lazy synths and guitar lines that dawdle and diddle in the most delicious manner, sometimes grasps the heart the hardest. That beautiful form of warped pop comes streaming from the hearts of Melted Toys, a three piece from San Francisco.

'Come On' is a soppy slice of distortion that treads the line between Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and an indietronic Grizzly Bear. This is the sort of music that has deviated and distorted it's way over the last twenty-odd years ever since The Smiths started singing exquisitely forlorn pop songs. 'Wild Waves' sounds like something the likes of The Drums have been aiming for, thanks to it's pure lo-fi heart singed and tinged with surf rock sentiment.

Melted Toys have an EP, 'Washed & Dried', out on February 22nd via Underwater Peoples Records. AND check out the beauteous video recorded by Into The Woods below. And now, they have to be added to the list of bands I need to beg/bribe to come to London.....

Friday, 28 January 2011

#16: Colours

New Narcotic of the Day #16:

What is it with these wonderful little scuzzy rock bands and their ungooglebable names. The likes of Girls, Cymbals, Women and Suckers all bring up a million little web pages that deviate from anything musical or melodic. Now, we have Colours (the British spelling gosh darnit), a google search that brings up a dazzling array of imagery and spectrum based information but very little on the surf rock garage fuzz fusion that leaks from four London based musicians going under the same term.

Signed to Marshall Teller Records and with an EP on the horizon (according to the ever so informative medium of Twitter), it's time to get into the kaleidoscopic world of Colours and the variation of vivid hues that they pump forth. 'Head Germ' is a psychedelic glimpse of noise rock (accompanied by an equally disturbing/sci-fi-tastic video from Benjamin Yiend), with a repeated drone of the word 'over' closing out the track in a suitably catastrophic cauterwaul. 'Wise Woods' begins with a lo-fi drum staple alongside a lazily strummed slice of surf rock riff, reverberating with the atmosphere of the setting sun before the lamenting larynx of the lead vocalist puts a dawdling sheen across everything.

Colours are appearing at Old Blue Last on the 5th January FOR FREE and have an EP on the way which I shall class as a necessity for 2011.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

#15: Francis Neve

New Narcotic of the Day #15:
Francis Neve

The realm of the singer-songwriter is a tricky field to navigate thanks to the glut of garbage that comes under such a banner, as various musicians roll through genre cliches without the flair or originality that allows them to break free of the musical weight of the past. Francis Neve, from Essex, manages to utilise an inventive mindset alongside a true heartfelt sentiment to craft his calm sense of indie gentility that nestles itself directly next to your pleasure points.

Francis has been writing songs since the age of 12, popped in and out of some indie bands and his debut record was released at the end of last year, garnering an understated collection of critical acclaim thanks to the understated style of storytelling that appears to innately inhabit his work. His debut album, 'The Second Time We First Met', has a slight concept in that it documents the life of a relationship, an idea close to my heart with the fiction I am attempting to complete in those moments when I am drunk and awake at 3am in the morning.

'Brian's Drying Up' is a melancholy trip that shows the songwriting prowess in the heart and head of Mr Neve, introducing ourself to the world of his records titular character. 'Come Near' utilises the general template of his work, a driving beat and a catchy riff accompanied by his alluringly, reassuring vocal tone that tells us a tale via an ear-pleasingly punch of a melody.

Francis Neve is appearing in London very soon so get along to The Strongrooms on 9th Feb, AAA on 19th Feb or Dublin Castle on 7th March.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

#14: Ben Butler & Mousepad

New Narcotic of the Day #14:
Ben Butler & Mousepad

Joe Howe is one guy who manages to sound like a group of electronic whizzes, whirring away on a host of electronica that screeches and screams with an attention deficit disorder that breeds beats. Formerly, Joe has worked as part of Gay Against You and Germlin, now using the name Ben Butler & Mousepad to peddle his brand of static stutter, stapling a heartfelt host of grooves here and there to headbop the whole thing home.

"Infinite Capacity" retreats and restarts through glitch and glimmer, shedding a skin of electronica on its way to a 90s dance pop dazzle. 'Other Islands' careens along on a precipice of sci-fi sonics whilst "Electric Bamber-Boo" is a Nintendo-fuelled, madcap dash through laser blasts that fire themselves directly through your eadrum and into your nostalgic memories of platformers, power-up and Pokemon.

He has a free EP on his Tumblr for YOU RIGHT NOW, so don't hestitate and get your glitch on to beep and bloop away those blues....

Publish Post

Monday, 17 January 2011

#13: Dirty Beaches

New Narcotic of the Day #13:
Dirty Beaches

Dirty Beaches is the beautifully pun-tastic pseudonym of one musical man, concocting a low-key, off-kilter collection of ideas and moulding them in his mind until this subdued sort-of-dub leaked into the world. His music burns with an icy sunshine, which sounds implausible until you learn he lived for years basking in the heat of Hawaii before moving to his current haunt, the snowy, chilly Canadian city of Montreal.

'Lord Knows Best', the track that made me fall into sonic reverie, sways with a perfectly pitched piano pop flutter, whilst the voice of Dirty Beaches growls, almost menacingly, atop, fusing these two seperate worlds into a vat of melting wonder, dripping with a late-night, drunk swagger.

He turns The Stooges into something far more terrifying, which is something I never thought possible. But 'No Fun' becomes a warning track, blaring forth a drilling beat with dry, instructive vocals demanding and commanding atop the whole thing. His voice resonates like Ian Curtis on a comedown, mumbling in a half-intelligible saunter that enraptures as much as it creeps and crawls.

Listen to a bit of this Dirty Beaches fellow right now before his album creates another bloody genre craze. GO GO GO!

Friday, 14 January 2011

#12: Chains of Love

New Narcotic of the Day #12:
Chains of Love

Old school sounding music still grabs me by the memory box and shakes me in ways I just can’t shake with new and modern sounds. So, when a band decides to emulate a mixture of old school rock and roll with dashes of soul and 50s boy band, my memory box goes gaga and shuts down for a little while.

But now it is back and giving you another New Narcotic, in the form of Chains of Love, a garage girl group from Vancouver who ache with the heart and soul only heartbreak and true love can instigate, break down and create. ‘All The Time’ is full of that snarky, revenge attitude, with scuzzy sounds and distant vocals aplenty, along with a wonderful bit of fairground synth that seems to spark into life towards the finale. ‘Breaking My Heart’ uses an old fashioned drum beat with precision and panache, resounding with the long lost sound of The Marvelettes and The Ronettes who decided to go garage, swigging whisky and pumping out rollicking jam after rolling melody.

Chains of Love are the highest calibre of retrotastic music, making their music sound like B-Sides to the best, brightest and boldest band of the 50s and 60s. And, just goddamn because sometimes life is wondrous, they have a bunch of songs for free to download right not from their Bandcamp…

Chains of Love Myspace

Chains of Love Bandcamp

Thursday, 13 January 2011

#11: The Babies

New Narcotic of the Day #11:
The Babies

It's time for an indietastic collaboration thanks to a modern day sort-of-super group! The Babies is a quartet formed of Cassie of the Vivian Girls, Kevin Morby of Woods, Nathanael Stark of Bent Outta Shape and Justin Sullivan of Ringers; a veritable indie/lo-fi explosion. Originally conceived as a temporary side project, for the sheer sonic fun of it, they seem to have cemented themselves as somewhat more serious after announcing a debut record on Shrimper Records this February.

The Babies peddle that current lo-fi lovefest style (Best Coast et al) that uses stoner mumble and grumble alongside bluesy guitar and an attitude to life that reminisces on youth, weed and lazy, sunny days spent roving around in permanent adolescence. 'Wild I' is a lazy romp through lo-fi territory whilst 'Breakin The Law' recalls garage rock roots, by way of Jay Reatard style clatter and shatter. 'Meet Me In The City' is an urgent charge through sunrays and 'Run Me Over' showcases a punching drumbeat alongside a sonically distorted riff that glides along with suitably catastrophic vocals.

Check out The Babies before they blow up and take the sun with them; the supergroup is back with a drugged up sort of vengeance....

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

#10: Grouplove

New Narcotic of the Day #10:

Sometimes a shockingly good introductory track can lead to a whole world of devastation and disappointment when the music you suddenly love reveals itself as a short loved, one-hit-wonder of your world, as the artist in question managed to use up all available wisdom and talent by channelling it into that one track you fell in love with. Grouplove unleashed a track called 'Colours' onto the net last year and I 100%, abso-fucking-lutely fell in love with it. Jabbing indie vocal jerks and steady but steadfast pulsating percussion, coupled with a shout-along chorus made it a surefire mainstay for my summer of 2010 (blogged about wayyy back in May). The worry came when I decided to see what else they had to offer....

Grouplove are an all-American group (even though one member is from London and they met in Crete...) who exude an upbeat Arcade Fire vibe, full of vigour and good vibrations. They are based, nonetheless, in LA, and you can feel the warmth of the West Coast sunshine through their tone and tenor. A slight sense of the 90s indie revival is in the air when listening to the likes of 'Naked Kids' with the vocals almost sneering their way through the song, aided by some rapid strumming and Smashing Pumpkins bass runs and spoken word verses. 'Gold Coast' is an irrepressible moan wrapped in indie ethos, accompanied by a clatter of drums and comfortably whining vocals, whilst 'Don't Say Oh Well' echoes a US parallel version of Los Campesinos!

The group veer away from the recurrent current sound of the West Coast, swerving away from lo-fi grumbling, edging away (ever so slowly and slightly) from surf rock and stumbling, giggling the whole way, in the opposite direction of noise rock. Grouplove are five content individuals, singing about joy and smiles amidst a Californian sunset and are all the better for this display of sheer exultation. I feel that if Grouplove aim for summer release, the mixture of festivals, sunshine (fingers crossed) and general gaiety in the air will push them into the stratosphere, kept afloat atop chanting crowds, sunny dispositions and face-achingly grinning music lovers.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

#9: Fos

New Narcotic of the Day #9:

Time for something strange, artistic and wondrous to close the weekend with Fos, the musical project of a Greek artist, Katerina Koutouzi, residing in London town. She has released two albums on Near The Exit music and is continuing her uniquely personal and emotive musical journey, crafting tracks that bob, duck and dive out of the way of genre expectations, moving in such unexpected directions that defy logic but placate the ear.

'Un Courant' is a harmonium led gem, using such a distinct sound to create a general sense of unease and cinematic tension whilst the low, humming vocals rumble atop it all. A mixture of instrumentation show's itself up in the work of Fos, with Katerina showcasing her prowess with pianos, harmoniums, accordians and glockenspiels, as well as projecting a hauntingly evocative voice.

The music of Fos has a folktastic base that spirals wildy off towards avant garde directions whilst maintaining a sense of calm pop in the way each song is constructed and the avenues they explore. 'With The Seagulls II' uses a deeply affecting piano riff to set up actual seagull effects and a sudden driving beat, adding a dance tinge to what first appears to be a folk-pop exploration. After a few listens, however, the music starts to feel like an artistic expression via sound and melody, with Fos using noise as a true artform and, more importantly, as her artistic voice. The likes of 'Mnimi' is a vocal and harmonious experiment (that works wonderfully) and 'In Harmony' takes a gentle, twinkling ideology, sparkling with a dream-like sense of awe.

Fos has developed an enormously overwhelming ability to spin together an assortment and array of oddities in terms of sound and style, weaving them together on a giant loom into a tapestry of melody, art, rhythm and hazy dreams. Catch her at the Shh Festival on 22nd January at Cecil Sharp House to try and experience her own unimaginable world in person.

Friday, 7 January 2011

#8: Trwbador

Artist of the Day #8:

Whilst I may not be able to correctly pronounce the name of today's band (I am guessing something like Troubadour???), I can correctly claim they excite, enthrall and entice in equal measure, sparkling with a simplicity of sonic structure that twinkles and flutters all at once. Trwbador are a bilingual duo from Carmarthenshire, South Wales who make me want to move to such hallowed, green and pleasant lands, learn the local lingo and form my own indietronica act that utilises the full force of the human voice in the manufacture of melodious motifs.

'Off Beat' is exactly what it says on the tin, chopping and slicing samples of wonderfully clipped vocal efforts to piece together a track that spins around and around, never landing on anything solid but making you dizzy in the most satisfying way. 'Eira' showcases a slightly noodling math rock influence in the guitar windling and weaving, carving a slowly widening path into your mind and staying there for a damn good while. Xylophones are always welcome in my musical inbox, so the delicate sprinkle of the aformentioned instrument, alongside a gentle vocal hum makes for an immensely smiley couple of minutes.

Trwbador make music to feed that part of you deep down that needs comfort, serenity and sweetness, utilising their impressive pair of vocal chords, an undeniable talent for electronic manipulation and a host of sudden and glitchy instrumentation to whisk a concoction of heady heart-throbbing folktronica.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

#7: Childish Gambino

Artist of the Day #7:
Childish Gambino

My first new act of this new year of ours going by the numer 2011 is going to be a comedian/actor/writer/hip-hop-hipster. Yeahhhhhhhhhh....

Hip-hop is a genre that has many many detractors who primarily focus on the mainstream mush of so-called 'Gangster-rap' which ignores the huge swathes of interesting, innovative and alternative rap music being produced nowadays. And I must mention that my new artist of today is not actually all that new. He is a comedian called Donald Glover who has found fame as part of Derrick Comedy (check them out all over Youtube), as a writer for 30 Rock (check it out if you get the chance) and as part of the cast of Community (CHECK IT OUT NOW BECAUSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR DEPENDS ON IT). Aside from all of this, and much unappreciated, is his music career, having released three records for free on the internet, including his latest early in 2010, 'Culdesac'.

Donald uses the pseudonym Childish Gambino, keeping his comedic and musical stylings seperate to distinguish the distinct differences between his two immense talents. He uses his word weaving abilities to craft intelligent, geeky hip-hop that echoes Das Racist and the current wave of alternative hipster-hip-hop breaking through. His unique style of self-conscious boasting namedrops references from Tina Fey to Spider-Man.

Most of his work explores his inner thoughts as a young, gifted and black rising star, ranging from worrying explorations of his early years through to diatribes on his attraction to the beautiful women surrounding him thanks to his highly-earned success. Slow R&B-esque grooves take over on the likes of 'So Fly', with Childish sounding sweet and gentle as opposed to his charging masculinity on 'Put It In My Video'. Here he clearly states that every kind of female can come and appear in his video, using an amazing sample of The Stylistics (pushing my soul buttons) and blurting forth a wondrous line that accurately describes my every thought when in NY this summer in "Mixed girls from Williamsburg, that's my fucking Kryptonite".

Strangely, a sample of Adele forms the backbone for 'Do Ya Like', a sultry seduction song that oozes sex appeal and her soul voice works exquisitely over the stop-start style utilised by Childish on the aforementioned track (whether she knows it or not). There is a vulnerability in the music here yet somehow a sincere sense of bravado alongside the nervousness, with Childish Gambino managing to tread the line with flair, eloquence and a wisdom beyond his years.

Check out the music of Donald Glover (along with every damn thing else he does) before he goes skyhigh and becomes the new Kanye (quite possibly ego and all). Oh, and he also mixes the likes of Sufjan Stevens into oddly pitched dub and dance remixes. He couldn't really get any more awesome...

OH and his latest album 'Culdesac' is free to download HERE!