Friday, 22 June 2012

Bad Veins - Dancing On TV

Supporting We Are Scientists on tour feels like a fair fit for Cincinnati-based indie-poppers Bad Veins, as they take to the live circuit across the UK this July. There’s that same quirkiness underlying the guitar lines and cutesy hooks, a collegiate chic that runs through a gamut of tuneful American predecessors from the The Strokes to the Dandy Warhols. There’s knowing nods to the past in their video for single Dancing on TV too; a nostalgic penchant for outmoded games consoles and brash decor that suits the track well. UK radio may have moved on from the days when bands like Ban Veins were ten a penny, but it’s reassuring to know they still exist out there somewhere, still turning out unsuspecting gems like this.

The band play the following live dates through July and August:

23rd BRISTOL - Thekla
25th LONDON - The Garage
26th PORTSMOUTH - The Wedgewood Rooms
30th NORWICH - Arts Centre
31st MANCHESTER - Deaf Institute

1st GLASGOW - King Tuts

Friday, 15 June 2012

Calvin Harris feat. Example - We'll Be Coming Back

Calvin Harris must be rubbing his hands in glee right now. First Rihanna’s We Found Love – then Cheryl’s Call My Name... if things carry on at this rate he’ll be giving Mr Guetta a run for his money in terms of universal chart domination stakes.

But musically speaking, Example collab We’ll Be Coming Back feels a little like the sound of a man who’s already spent his load. Sure, all the trademark rave o’clock synth hooks and pill-popping drum fills are in place, but the song feels lifeless, a dry-run of a track that pales away into nothingness when stood alongside the artistic peaks both artists have previously shown themselves to be capable of.

Call My Name, We Found Love and Ne-Yo-featuring Let’s Go all worked because on top of all the standard dance trappings was an indelible sense of pop melody, the kind of thing to grip the mind not only into the early hours, but right on through to the next night. As both club smashes par-excellence and chart contenders, they were right on the money. We’ll Be Coming Back, why by no means a bad record, just doesn’t operate in the same league – we just hope this doesn’t mark the start of the Calvin formula entering a distinctly watered-down phase.

Released: 30th July

Cleo Sol - Never The Right Time (Who Do You Love)

Timeless soul diva or spritzy Spanish beverage? Cleo Sol could quite easily be both, but a perfunctory listen to her debut single affirms she is most definitely the former. Having already featured on tracks by some of the best in UK rap, the songstress goes it alone on the back of a grooved-up chunk of strutting R&B class. There’s something of a gloriously sunny mid 90s summer to the whole affair, quite the antidote to the rancid weather the UK has deigned to deliver us this June. Oh, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Sol spends much of the video working it out in a variety of figure-hugging outfits. There’s touches of old school Diana Ross there too, a passionate performance that goes far beyond early collabs with Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32, breaking free of her Ladbroke Grove roots and gearing up to take on the world.

Released: July 9th.

Hounds - Fan The Flames of Desire (Rob Jevons Remix)

‘I decided that this remix has to be a belter that people can go mental to’ says Rob Jevons of his remix of new Hounds track Fan The Flames of Desire – and belter it is, a throbbing slab of gristle and dub-laced power. Subtle, it is not – but then, you’d expect nothing less from a group fresh from an impressive slot at Download and gearing up to support The Prodigy at the Milton Keynes Bowl.

And it’s with The Prodigy that Hounds find their closest kin here – yelped, punky vocals clashing with a veritable battering ram of noise. With the likes of Enter Shikari and Korn already enjoying impressive returns from their delvings into the sub-sphere, Fan The Flames of Desire makes for a meaty appetiser for the group’s current EP release, The Wicked. 

[Official Video] Misha B - Home Run

Misha B IS attitude. A full-on force ten gale when so many of her fellow contestants from the X Factor school of 2011 were mere whimpers in the winds of popular music. And Home Run is everything that was great about her before disastrously poor song choice and tepid styling converted her into a caricature of herself.

The video makes for a neat fit to the track too, colourful and fun for the youth audience Misha is clearly gunning for, but with the accompanying slickness and production whizz to push her to the hipsters to. Dare we say it, Home Run could very well be the first tentative steps in the making of a British Minaj?

Released: 15th July.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

exlovers - Emily

The second single from London five-piece exlovers, Emily finds itself playing along two central strands. On one hand, there’s the wonderfully retro guitar lines, like something dredged out of the mid 90s, a tuneful harking back to hazy Britpop memories. And then there’s the interplay of hushed boy/girl vocals, a lo-fi murmur that floats around with an apt sense of spaced-out individualism. It all sort of revolves in that fey Dandy Warhols artfulness that comes on here, reborn for a new generation of disaffected youth – the music in the corners of the radio static, a lost gem for long afternoons.

Released: 2nd July.

Swiss Lips - Danz

Now here’s something – imagine a collective of feisty northerners in the vein of Reverend & The Makers allied to edgy slabs of LCD-Soundsystem-esque electro. A potent cocktail, and one that Mancunian five-piece Swiss Lips pull off with thrilling ease on hi-energy stormer Danz. It makes for a frenetic exercise in synth power-pop, the kind of thing Duran Duran might have been making if they had kick-started their career in the 21st century rather than the early 80s. The group’s other tracks show a great deal of promise too, U Got The Power ups the quirk considerably – mixing and matching in funky basslines and hedonistic whoops. Grow returns to the Duran-alike sounds, needling synth hooks underpinning another full-throttle up-tempo number.

The band are playing the following upcoming live dates:

16 June   LONDON, Lovebox
  6 July    ABERSOCH, Wakestock
  7 July    CANTERBURY, Lounge on the Farm
29 July    KENDALL, Kendall Calling

General Fiasco - Bad Habits

General Fiasco sure don’t go in quietly. Sledgehammer guitar riffs slam out of the speakers, opening the gates for a tour-de-force in steely modern rock. Big, weighty and with a fighter-like poise to the Northern Irish group’s lyrical delivery, Bad Habits makes for a brawling follow-up to Zane Lowe Hottest-Record-in-the-World pick, The Age You Start Losing Friends. Even compressed into the tight confines of this studio version, you can feel the energy straining to be let loose live. With two UK-wide tours already polished off this year, the thrill and vigour of the gig-setting forms the very lifeblood of General Fiasco’s music.

Introducing... Angus Powell

Featured as a BBC Introducing artist-of-the-week earlier this year, it’s fair to say Angus Powell is blessed with a bit of classic Welsh musicality. Upside Down, one of a selection of taster tracks from his upcoming debut EP abounds with a folky lilt, while managing to keep itself firmly rooted in radio sensibilities. It’s half-way through where the real magic happens though, a haunting, unfolding soundscape of rural wilds and open space. It lingers at the edges of the senses, beautifully elusive. Monsters follows along similar lines, the production twinkling with a quality rare for self-produced efforts. Tender and thoughtful, Powell’s EP feels like it could fit in well alongside the likes of Ben Howard’s recently acclaimed Every Kingdom.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Josh Kumra feat. K Koke - Helicopters & Planes

Towards the end of last year we featured Josh Kumra’s freebie download Call off the Search; for the Swindon lad who’d already guested on Wretch 32’s Don’t Go, his own music saw him making a confident stand at the forefront of a new wave of British White Soul. A James Morrison with infinitely more street cred, if you will.

New track Helicopters & Planes pairs Kumra’s distinctive vocals with a moody synthetic backing and the subdued rumble of lo-fi percussion. It’s a moment of enchanting, arresting claustrophobia; those haunting string sections lifting Kumra’s voice up to where it can soar most freely.

Released: July 15th.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Aiden Grimshaw announces tour dates!

With his excellent debut single Is This Love breaking its way into the Top 40, X Factor standout Aiden Grimshaw is fast on his way to establishing himself as one of the UK’s most exciting new male solo talents. With the kind of critical praise rarely afforded to the progeny of the ITV ratings juggernaut, Aiden is proving to be quite the dark horse, and going by the strikingly individual, beautifully crystalline synth-sounds of Is This Love, both his upcoming album Misty Eye and his tour look set to be a real treat.

Tickets for the tour go on sale this Friday (15th), so if you fancy catching him live, be up bright and early at 9am to book tickets. Aiden’s UK-wide tour encompasses the following dates:

19           Bristol O2 Academy 2
20           Nottingham Rescue Rooms
22           Northampton Roadmender
23           Bournemouth The Old Firestation
24           Brighton Concorde 2
26           Birmingham O2 Academy 2
27           Glasgow King Tuts
28           Leeds Cockpit
30           Manchester Academy 3

01           Oxford Academy 2
02           London Scala

Friday, 8 June 2012

Kartika - Don't You Think So

Earlier in the week we featured Sheffield band Twin Bears, and well, like busses, these things always seem to come in twos – so, from the same northern climes, allow us to present Kartica. Debut single Don’t You Think So manages to pretty much encompass anyone who was anyone during the heights of 90s Britpop; big, grey-sky guitar lines with a vocal halfway between your Gallaghers and Ashcrofts. In its more tuneful moments, there’s even a touch of the Doves and the Bunnymen, a plaintiff to carry the baton of British lad-rock on to the next generation. With recent efforts from the likes of The Enemy proving to be particularly uninspiring, Kartica offer a well-polished alternative.

Usher feat. - Can't Stop Won't Stop

When Billy Joel recorded Uptown girl back in 1983, we don’t think even God could have imagined it’d one day end up with a massive rave synth shoved up its arse and used as the hook in the latest Usher/ collab. But here we are, and the short of it is that Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, for all its ridicu-sampling, is a bit of an anthem. Sure, there’s none of the sensual poise that made Climax such a crucial artistic re-invigoration for Usher, but in terms of plonking the R&B star back in the centre of clubland as previous team-up OMG did, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop feels just about right.

Peaking Lights - Beautiful Son

As an entry point to Wisconsin duo Peaking Lights’ LP Lucifer, Beautiful Son makes for an almost bewilderingly varied number. From floaty, disembodied vocals to twitchy electronics that recall the heydays of Orbital and 808 State, it’s a veritable tropical rainforest of musical touch-points. At its best, there’s even a sprinkling of Screamadelica-ish transcendentalism to it, a slow, gentle wash of blissful emotion and the bond between parent and child. Indeed, as far as spaced out, trippy love songs go, we reckon we’d be pretty chuffed if someone wrote something like this about us. Surprisingly touching, Beautiful Son manages to be both heartfelt and sonically explorative in the artiest of ways.

Lucifer is released on the 18th June.

Introducing... Eric Solomon

He’s toured with Dragonette and can already boast remixes of Owl City and The XX to his name – but with Eric Solomon’s debut EP, there’s no doubt his eyes are now firmly set on stepping things up to the next gear. Tracks like Addicted brim with a muscular confidence and the promising spark of a potential major male solo star of the future to stand alongside, and perhaps one day even surpass, the likes of Sam Sparro and Adam Lambert.

Likewise, the EP’s lead track Ground Control is the kind of snappy, electrically-charged synth-pop number that could easily give Taio Cruz a run for his money. With a knowing nod to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, it jumps out with a look-at-me attitude and the kind of urban cred designed to grease the palms of radio playlisting committees.

I Found Love riffs off Ace of Bass vibes, but maintains a distinctly modern demeanour, funked up and tooled up with a dancefloor vigour that feels impressively well-rounded for a debut effort. With this kind of consistency already in evidence, it’s no wonder he’s already swayed over 5000 Twitter followers to his cause.

Riz MC - Dark Hearts

Now here’s a thing – esteemed London rapper Riz MC knocking together a Blade Runner tribute, including a cameo appearance from Channel 4’s Fonejacker? It sounds like a concept too surreally unreal to be true – but here it is, existing for all the world to see, and we reckon it makes for a rather entertaining re-work of some of the most recognisable scenes from the classic film. Soundtracked by Dark Hearts, a dapper, pin-point precise cut from Riz’s upcoming MICroscope album, the video sees the MC blasting his way through a series of replicants until... well, we wouldn’t want to spoil the final twist for you.

MICroscope is released on the 18th June.

These Reigning Days - Living It Up

For their second single, promising Devon newcomers These Reigning Days go for classic British guitar sounds, but revitalised with a proficiency and sense of scope that feels grander and more ambitious than a good deal of their contemporaries. A big hearty chorus and slabs of steely guitar that march stoically along, Living It Up is the kind of track The Enemy would have done well to have had on their new album. With a support slot alongside Metronomy under their belts already, one imagines that with songs as strong as this, These Reigning Days are chomping at the bit to head out on the road again.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

VIMES - Take My Breath Away

It’s a brave band that goes about covering 80s classic Take My Breath Away. Still, we’re rather liking this version by Cologne two-piece Vimes, who give the track an icy chilled-out makeover, all subtle synthetic touches and a lovely sense of atmosphere. It’s the sort of thing we imagine OMD might come up it if they ever did a covers album. The group’s own track Neglect offers more of the same, verging into Hot Chip territory for a moody electronic work-out.

Twin Bears - Angel Bread EP

Growing up in Sheffield, pretentions to putting together a laddy guitar group must feel forever overshadowed by the Arctic Monkeys, every aspect and component judged against the Mardy Bum stars and the sea-change they helped usher in some half a decade ago. Thankfully, Twin Bears sound nothing like the Arctic Monkeys – no, they fall far more within the Vaccines/Maccabees/Howler sweep of things; angular, rough-edged indie ditties that encompass schooldays brouhaha and teenage phases. Libertines-tinged By The River is a particular highlight of the band’s Angel Bread EP, while You Got The Fire sees them on a more sonically adventurous tilt, a band not content to be confined by their predecessors.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jennifer Left - Black Dog

She’s the seaside girl putting a poetic lilt to whimsical, folky pop – but for Jennifer Left, her music feels like it’s jumping at the bit to strike up a campfire and regale all with its inherent charm. New single Black Dog is like a British Caro Emerald with a quaint little whistle-hook, a cutesy indie-pop bit of frippery that feels well suited to idyllic summer months. Left's music is fundamentally playful, but there’s moments of something more, tucked away in the smoky, flanged guitar licks in the bridges between verse and chorus. The track’s b-side Hushabye treads a similar path with more whistling and the vaguely haunting chime of guitar against a backdrop of halcyon strings. It’s a whispered bed-time story of sepia-toned days and Left’s sugary vocals lend it a surprisingly moving resonance.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Eurovision 2012 - The Official Album

This week we got a shiny copy of the official Eurovision 2012 album in the post, so we thought it’d be a good idea to put down just a few of our thoughts on what turned out to be a very entertaining year for the show.
While it seems, as usual, to have rubbed up the ‘serious’ music fans the wrong way, with the usual ‘We should pull out forever!’ cries, personally, we reckon the real irony is that the show actually felt pretty close to a fair chunk of the dance pop in our own charts this year. Take the excellent Swedish entry from Loreen for example – Euphoria could easily be the latest global smash from David Guetta or even the follow-up to Tulisa’s current club anthem.
If there’s one genre that really speaks across borders, it’s dance, and the longer the UK resists this, the more they’re likely to lose out. In all truth, it’s no surprise Humperdinck’s Love Will Set You Free stalled at second to last – it was a torrid, stale old snoozefest of a song that felt 40 years out of date.
Honourable mentions need to go to the vastly underrated Danish entry Should’ve Known Better, and France’s whistle-athon Echo, an up-tempo stormer of a track if ever there was one. What all these entries proved time and again was the importance of a stonking great pop chorus, copious dollops of fun, and outfits that actually kept your eyes glued to the screen rather than wandering back to that beer you’d been nursing all evening.
As a showcase in the art of the three minute pop song across Europe in 2012, you can’t go far wrong here.