To commemorate the dawning of this New Year (we’re 10 days in, can we keep going on about the New Year or is it just January now?) we’ve decided to do something old. Regular readers may recall we ran a very occasional Saturday feature where we caught up with tracks and videos we may have missed in the week or just didn’t have time to get to properly. So occasional was this feature though that in 2014 we ran it a whopping four times (and two of those were special editions). Still, it is the New Year and we are trying to be a bit better at posting, better at managing the inbox and now, better at bringing you this weekly round-up.
For those of you unfamiliar with the premise we, like every other blog, are inundated with emails from bands and PR companies on a daily basis. A lot of this music is really good but sadly, we have a day job and other responsibilities and cannot cover everything, no matter how much we would like to. What’s In The Box? is designed to go some way to address our wish to feature more music vs time in the day.
So, on a weekly basis (and we will try and make it weekly) we will showcase a bunch of tracks and/or videos that we have enjoyed in the past seven days. Most of it, but not all, will have come directly from the inbox and while we won’t be as verbose in our descriptions of each one, we figured some words were better than none. At least this way you get to hear them too right? And that’s the main thing.
Makes sense? Let’s do it, and make sure you read to the end, there’s a plenty of absolutely brilliant tracks in there.
Susanne Sundfør – “Delirious”
First out of the box is a track that didn’t actually come from the box. Instead we heard it on When The Gramaphone Rings who made it their track of the day on Thursday. There they likened it to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and they are, as ever, bang on. Taken from her new album Ten Love Songs (due in February), “Delirious” is a pulsating electro-dance-pop tune full of kaleidoscopic colour, energy, heartbreak and malice. It is, fantastic.
The Lone Bellow – “Cold As It Is”
In complete contrast, our second track this week is a catchy, slightly stompy, blend of bluesy-americana from The Lone Bellow. It’s almost impossible not to tap your foot along with this as the beat claps and the bassline rumbles on. Check out their performance from the Jimmy Kimmel show the other night and you’ll see what we mean.
“Cold As It Is” is taken from the forthcoming album Then Came The Morning (out 27 Jan).
r.e.l. – “Plateau”
“Plateau” by 19 year old newcomer r.e.l. has been online a couple of months now but only just found its way into our inbox. We’re glad it did. With its laidback R’n’B grooves, it’s a deliciously cool and soulful piece of pop that grooves effortlessly along. It’s got some really lovely late night drinks vibes and the vocals are sweet and dreamy. Alongside the other tracks from her debut EP that are online (check out “All That Bite” in particular) there is every reason to believe that r.e.l. is destined for big things. We’ll be keeping an eye out for more, that’s for certain.
Kanzi – “Two Hearts”
Taken from their self-titled debut EP (out now on Animal Records), Kanzi’s “Two Hearts” (not a Kylie cover, or a Phil Collins cover for that matter) is rather wonderful. Like Friendly Fires turned waaay down, it’s melancholic electronica has a liquid texture, gently rippling with rhythms and soft synth melodies while the gentle falsetto vocals float smoothly along.
Altar Flowers – “Bastard Song”
They used to be LVLS but one quick jump into a phone box and a change of clothes later and the Manchester quintet are now Altar Flowers. The name may have changed but aspects of the sound are still there as “Bastard Song” harks back to predecessor “W.S.C.B.F” with its 80s pop-rock, Tears for Fears, John Hughes, sensibilities.
Mary Caroline – “Life On Earth”
She may currently reside in an icy wasteland (in a cabin just below the arctic circle to be precise) but the title track to Mary Caroline’s debut album is anything but cold. In fact, “Life On Earth” sounds more like a playful skip through the park on a bright spring morning than huddling round an ice hole fishing for supper. It’s swaysome, singsong folk pop that, as the piano and guitar does so merrily, frolics and prances through the grass and flowers. Lovely.
Janne Hea – “Wishing Well”
On the other side of the folk spectrum to Mary Caroline is Janne Hea whose track “Wishing Well” is one of those that brings about rapt and silent attention from the audience whenever it is played live. It feels reverential, at least that is how it should be treated, with a quiet and restrained simplicity and beauty. It appears to have been out for some time but could be in line for a re-release / re-package as it only made it into our inbox yesterday. Regardless, this is a gorgeously subdued piece of folk that deserves to be heard and enjoyed.
Monophona – “Thumb”
Ahead of the release of their second album, Black On Black (out 30 Jan), Monophona have released new track “Thumb” for us to get to grips with. And goodness, not only are we gripping it, we don’t want to let go. This hypnotic blend of analogue and digital, acoustic and electronic has us hooked. The quiet darkness of “Thumb” is fantastic, it’s shadowy and mesmeric with the repetitive pluck of guitar and sonar-esque electronic beeps serving as beacons of light to guide us. Out on German label Kapitän Platte, it has a very Ninja Tune feel to it. We love it.
Victoria – “Into The Wild”
If you like your indie pop sounds big and anthemic then you’ve come to the right place. London based combo Victoria have already played to a sell out crowd in Hoxton and it is only a matter of time before the venues start getting much bigger but the ‘sold out’ sign will remain on the door. “Into The Wild” is a vast, rousing track, the kind that deserves a suitably widescreen video, sporting montage of triumph over adversity or a large festival crowd jumping up and down. Hell, it’ll probably get all three and so it should. Another group to keep an eye on.
Lyon – “Catch Me If I Fall”
Falling perfectly between Fickle Friends and Vérité, Toronto’s LYON has shared the video for her latest poptacular, “Catch Me If I Fall”. Full of bounce, energy and joie de vivre, it’s a dazzlingly infectious synthpop extravaganza. The video may be black and white but the song is full of colour; it’s bright, cheery and delightfully infectious.
So there we go, ten superb tracks that hopefully include at least one that you enjoyed. Come back next week for more regular posting and, all being well, there will be another What’s In The Box? here for you next Saturday as well.