Tag: London UK

Black Bear Whisper is the collaborative dark, electro pop project of Danish singer/songwriter and producer Kat Boelskov, who has released music that has been largely ignored in her homeland but has found some popularity among the Mexican gay community; and the London-born Iranian producer Unfamed, who has collaborated in a number of projects, including this one, which has already seen praise from Allmusic, Uncut and The Quietus among others — also, Unfamed also spent 18 years studying the Iranian santur, a 72 stringed dulcimer, played with small wooden hammers, developing a reputation for being one of the best santur-players outside of Iran.

Interestingly, the duo have never met in person but they can trace the origins of their long-distance collaboration to a chance meeting on the Internet. Although their collaboration is currently based primarily in email and music files, the duo quickly realized that the material they had begun working on centered around extremely dark themes with lyrics that specifically focused on anger, euphoria, jealousy, deception, desire and other forbidden emotions and thoughts. Sonically speaking, the duo’s work is defiantly difficult to categorize as it pairs modern electronic production with santur, adding an ancient vibe to the proceedings.

The duo’s latest single, the Garbage meets glittering disco-like “1000 Eyes” features a funky disco-inspired bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, blasts of shimmering santur chords — and while dance floor friendly, the song thematically focuses on selfishness, self-obsession, blind, spiteful rage at everything and everyone. As the duo’s Kat Boelskov says in press notes, “I’m self-obsessed, and I’m angry. All I ever see is me, and no-one else ever meets my expectations. Every good act I do is for myself only. If I’m nice to you, it’s only another tactic, another play. I try above all else to be in control, to not give you a chance to gain equality. When I fear that you may be my equal, I desperately try to hold you down, by whatever means.” Of course, what makes the song so disturbing is that it’s rooted in a profound and deeply cynical truth about human nature — people can be selfish, delusional, greedy, stupid assholes. We see it every single day in the Trump Administration and elsewhere.

 

 

Advertisements

Formed initially as a solo, bedroom recording project of Hull, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ryan Smith during the end of 2016, the up-and-coming Hull-based indie rock quintet bdrmm became a full fledged band when Smith recruited his brother Jordan (bass), Joe Vickers (guitar), Daniel Hull (synth, backing vocals) and Luke Irvin (drums). The British quintet cut their teeth playing across Northern England before releasing their first two singles “kare” and “the way i want,” which quickly caught the attention of MTVClash Magazine and DORK, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1 and Amazing Radio. Adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming band has opened for Trudy & The Romance, Her’s, FEHM and Horsey — and as a result, they caught the attention of London-based indie label Permanent Creeps, who recently released the band’s latest single “C.U.”

Interestingly, the sprawling new single briefly nods at classic 4AD Records post-punk,  shoegaze and slacker rock as the song is centered around a morphing and shifting song structure which features an arrangement of shimmering, pedal effected guitars, thundering drumming, a propulsive bass line and soaring hook — and that’s paired with a swooning and emotionally urgent song rooted in deeply personal, lived-in experience. As the band’s Ryan Smith explains in press notes “I wrote ‘C.U.’ during a pretty ‘eventful’ time in my life — a lot of feelings hurt, vivid anxiety and thing lost, this track has been a long time coming . This is an ode to 2017.”

 

 

 

 

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Liam Brown, an up-and-coming Liverpool, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electro pop artist, best known as Pizzagirl. Now, as you may recall, with the release of his debut EP An Extended Play earlier this year, Brown was quickly championed by Huw StephensAnnie Mac and Lauren Laverne, and received praise from DIYHighsnobietyWonderlandThe Line of Best Fit and others for an 80s synth pop inspired sound. And adding to a growing profile, Brown opened for acclaimed British act Her’s during their most recent UK tour.

Building upon a growing profile and growing buzz, Brown’s sophomore Pizzagirl EP season 2 is slated for a November 2 release, and from the EP’s first two singles “highschool” and “gymnasium,”  Brown will further cement a reputation for crafting swooningly heartfelt, shimmering synth pop that draws from several decades simultaneously; in fact, both singles brought the likes of Washed OutSt. Lucia and Tears for Fears to mind. “body part,” the EP’s latest single while clearly bearing an uncanny resemblance to its predecessor, the song finds Brown successfully walking a difficult tightrope of an oversized, larger-than-life cinematic feel with an emotional intimacy that continues to evoke the very  urgent emotions and thoughts of being a teenager in love.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months of its eight-plus year history, you’ve come across a handful of posts about the Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music.

After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned home to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write and record her own original music, largely inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers. On a whim, Baudry took a trip to Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here. I’m a songwriter and I’m looking for like-minded people to collaborate with.” While in Nashville, the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter wound up having chance meetings with two local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within about an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing the material that eventually became Baudry’s Million Miles’ debut EP Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s home studio in the Berry Hill neighborhood of Nashville. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.

Baudry’s much-anticipated sophomore EP Good Luck, Honey is slated for a November release, and from the soulful EP single “Honey,” the track revealed an artist, who has become increasingly self-assured in her songwriting and approach, but maintaining a lived in, emotional honesty that’s rare for most contemporary pop. Good Luck, Honey‘s later single ” Just Dumb Luck” will further cement Baudry’s growing reputation for crafting effortless yet honest soul; but interestingly, the track finds the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter’s sound leaning in a much more rootsy take on soul that recalls Sandra Rhodes’ Where’s Your Love Been and Bonnie Raitt. As Baudry explains in press notes, “‘Just Dumb Luck”‘ is about how sometimes in life things just happen. They do. It’s not always all calculated through some algorithm, or perhaps there’s a universe’s algorithm that orchestrates it all… But I believe in luck and also creating your own luck. And by creating your own luck I mean going out there, being open minded, listening to people, to their story, and building your own as you go along. It’s a song about appreciating the moment, acknowledging the luck you’ve been having so far and just going with it and see where it takes you…”

Baudry will be playing an intimate set at Rockwood Music Hall on November 1, 2018. Fans should expect to hear material from the new EP, as well as the countless singles I’ve written about on this site.

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe, and as you may recall, the act, which was initially comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound. Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London-based bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and they deeply reviled it.  As the story goes, the duo met at party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The CureU2Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes.  And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while centered around anthemic and downright arena rock friendly hooks, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.

Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Light. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.

After spending 18 months touring to support their critically applauded full-length debut effort Hit the Light, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). As the story goes, the members of the band felt a renewed sense of confidence when it came to preparing to write and work on their follow up effort Future Perfect, Present Tense. They set up shop in a vacant driving license office in East London, where the majority of the writing was done, and as they were nearing the end, they went to Oslo, Norway where they tracked the material before returning to London to finish the album with producer Luke Smith, who has worked with Foals, Depeche Mode, Petite Noir, and Anna of the North — and mixed by Craig Silvey, who has worked with Arcade Fire, Florence & The Machine and Amen Dunes.

Thematically, the material reportedly is a mediation on everything that has brought them all to the point of their sophomore album, and everything they’ve willingly (and perhaps unwillingly) left behind in actually getting there. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Won’t Happen” is centered around a buoyant groove, jangling guitars and a soaring, arena friendly hook while the band’s Duncan laments and repents for his past indiscretions — perhaps to a lover or to himself. Sonically, the song will further cement the band’s reputation for being uncompromisingly genre-defying as the song seems to draw from 70s AM rock, Brit Pop and arena rock simultaneously; but with a decidedly individualistic take that has them sound unlike any other contemporary act I can think of.

.

New Video: Public Service Broadcasting’s Thoughtful Tribute to the RMS Titanic

Initially begun as the solo recording project of its founding member J. Willgoose, Esq. (guitar, banjo, stringed instruments, samplers, synths) back in 2009, the London-based instrumental prog rock act Public Service Broadcasting expanded to a duo with the addition of Wrigglesworth (drums, piano, electronic musical instruments) — and as a duo, they released an EP, 2012’s The War Room, and two full-length albums, 2013’s Inform-Educate-Entertain and 2015’s The Race for Space, which established their sound — expansive prog rock centered around sampled news programs, field recordings, found footage, old movies (particularly from the British Film Institute archives) and the like; in fact, the band’s The Race for Space, which thematically focused on the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s may arguably be their most critically and commercially successful album — the album charted at #11 on the UK Independent Charts, before reaching #1 later that week.

The band’s third, full-length album, last year’s Every Valley found the band expanding to a trio with the addition of JF Abraham (lugelhorn, bass guitar, drums, vibraslap and others), while featuring guest vocals from Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell, and thematically the album’s material focused on the coal mining industry’s rise and fall in the Welsh Valleys between the 1950s and 1980s. Now. if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that earlier this year, the newly constituted trio was commission by the BBC to write and record four new pieces, centered on the story of the RMS Titanic, which led to their soon-to-be released EP White Star Liner.

Slated for an October 26, 2018 release through Play It Again Sam Records, the EP thematically and sonically tells the story of the Titanic from its construction to its early, tragic, demise. Focusing on the perspectives of those who built and salted her, the EP will further the band’s reputation for crafting a unique audio-visual experience that provides a new and very different perspective on well-known events. As the band’s J. Willgoose, Esq. says in press notes “I thought it was an interesting challenge to tell the story of the ship’s construction as part of Belfast’s proud industrial history, the spirit of optimism of the pre-war age that she represented, and then an abstract and, I hope, respectful depiction of both the sinking of the ship (represented by the repeated Morse code distress call, C – Q – D) and the discovery of the wreck in 1985.”

The EP’s first official single is the breezy and hopeful motorik-like “White Star Liner,” which captures a sense of hopeful excitement as the completed ship is just about to set sail for America. There’s the sense of a world slowly unifying after a brutal war, of the possibility of increasing world travel meant for the economies of cities like Belfast and others, as larger and larger ships were built. And for a brief moment, the future seemed glorious and full of possibility. The recently released video features the band performing live, cut with the stock footage they use during their live shows. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Eliza Shaddad Releases 90s Rom-Com Inspired Visuals for “Just Goes To Show”

With the release of her first two EPs Run and Waters, the London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Eliza Shaddad quickly rose to international prominence, receiving praise from a number of major media outlets including The Fader, Nylon, Stereogum, The Line of Best Fit, The Independent, Clash, The 405, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, Beats 1 Radio and countless others for a sound that some have compared to the likes of PJ Harvey, Cat Power and others.

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed British singer/songwriter, and as you may recall, Shaddad’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Future is slated for an October 26, 2018 release through Beatnik Creative. Earlier this year, I wrote about Future‘s second single “My Body,” a moody track featuring shoegazer-like atmospherics and a dark, seductive, trip hop-inspired groove that evoked a plaintive and uncertain need. “This Is My Cue” the album’s third single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor — moody atmospherics but centered around a candid and ironically rousing breakup song.

Future‘s fourth and latest single “Just Goes to Show” continues a run of atmospheric tracks with a deceptively anthemic nature but much like its immediate predecessor, the track is deeply confessional and unabashedly honest description of the desperate, uneasy feelings of a breakup –but from the perspective of the person being left behind to deal with the aftermath. And while some have compared the song to The Cranberries,Wolf Alice and Marika Hackman, the song isn’t completely dire as it (subtly) suggests that life and one’s heart does go on after a while.

Directed by Patrick Taylor, the recently released video was shot in one of Shaddad’s favorite venues in London, specifically decorated to fit, along with some willing friends and family as extras “(My little (big) bro is in it, and my cousins, in fact it’s a repeat performance from one:) The costume and hair and make up teams worked total miracles on all of us and then we channeled our inner teenagers and the result is something completely and bananasly different for me.” Of course, the video features Shaddad at a painfully awkward and terrible 90s-like prom, complete with its attendees doing sad two-steps, while the video’s protagonist sit off to the side singing the song before being asked to dance — while capturing the innermost thoughts, desires and frustrations of teenagers. Interestingly, as Shaddad says, the “song has always felt like the kind of thing that would be playing in one of those terrible but incredible 90s movies prom scenes and so I was dying to make a video played on that.” 

Theodore is a critically applauded, Athens, Greece-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and composer, whose schooling in piano and traditional Greek folk music eventually led to a professional music career in London, where he studied Music Composition in 2011. As a composer and singer/songwriter, Theodore meshes classical compositions and arrangements with subtle electronic production and rock instrumentation to create a sound that’s atmospheric, cinematic that nods at psych rock, prog rock and experimental rock — and it shouldn’t be surprising that the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist cites Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Manos Hadjidakis, Vangelis Papathanasiou, Nils Frahm, The National, Olafur Arnalds and Max Richter as being major influences on his work and sound. “I like a composer or a band because when I listen to the music or attend a concert I am just getting lost in the atmosphere,” Theodore explains in press notes. “I understand that orchestral music is something that I am really into and I will try to test my self in the future.”

Theodore has written compositions for Matina Megla’s Window, Vladan Nikolic’s film Bourek and he was commissioned to write a new, live score for Buster Keaton’s classic, 1928 silent comedy The Cameraman, which he and his band performed during  a screening at the Temple of Zeus. But interestingly enough, his sophomore album It Is But It’s Not, which was performed live at London’s Abbey Road Studio 2 has been his breakthrough effort as the accompanying performance video has amassed more than 2 million YouTube views — and as a result, the Greek composer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Reeperhbahn Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag, Release Festival and SXSW. Adding to a growing profile, he has opened for Sigur Ros and DIIV, and has received praise from a number of major media outlets, including Clash Magazine, Music WeekTsugi, FGUK, Gaffa and Szene, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. Oh, and I must add that “Towards (for what is to come)” is currently playlisted on NPR’s All Songs 24/7 and Germany’s Flux Passport Approved.

Theodore’s third, full-length album Inner Dynamics is slated for a November 2, 2018 release and the album finds him thematically looking inward to examine the dichotomies (and dualities) of his identity in order to seek new creative potential. “On It Is But It’s Not, I tried to explore how the opposite elements in the universe interact, how they fight and how without the one you can’t have the other.” Theodore says, adding, “For Inner Dynamics, I was trying to express my urge to connect the conscious and subconscious part of myself so I can be creative. It’s an understanding that humans are not just one thing, and they shouldn’t try to hide certain elements of their personality because society likes to put labels of who we are. It’s the different sides of my self that makes who I am.” Inner Dynamics‘ third and latest single “Disorientation” clocks in at a little over 6 minutes, and it finds Theodore’s sound nodding at dramatic film scores, Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like atmospherics, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and Rush-like prog rock expansiveness, centered around Theodore’s yearning vocals and slick production.

 

New Audio: London’s White Lies Releases a Moody and Epic New Single from Forthcoming Album

Slated for a February 1, 2019 release through [PIAS] Recordings, the acclaimed London-based indie trio White Lies, comprised of Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, backing vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) will be marking their tenth anniversary as a band — and interestingly, the album reportedly finds the band pushing their sound and aesthetic in new directions with the addition of personal, and at times deeply intimate lyrics written by the band’s Charles Cave. Unlike the preceding albums, the writing and recording process was a Transatlantic one that included a trip to Los Angeles, where they worked on new material with Ed Bueller, who produced the band’s chart-topping debut To Lose My Life and their third album Big TV. Throughout the process, the band enlisted past associates and collaborators to assist on the proceedings including engineer James Brown, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters; the renowned producer Flood, who contributes synths and keys on a couple of tracks; and Grammy Award-winning Alan Moulder, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and The Killers to mix the album. 

Clocking in at a little over 7 and a half minutes, the album’s latest single “Time to Give” may arguably be among the most ambitious songs the band has released, as the track is centered around a lush yet moody arrangement of shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line that’s part of a propulsive, motorik groove and soaring, arena rock-friendly hooks paired with McVeigh’s sonorous baritone. And while nodding a bit at Snow Patrol and others, the song seems to focus on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship from a real an lived-in place; in fact, it’s so real that as a result, the song bristles with bitterness, confusion and hurt.