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Saltwater Sun – “Habit On My Mind”

21 Apr

Saltwater Sun

One of the many things we enjoy about the arrival of an exciting new band, especially one with guitars, is the inevitable rush to compare them to that which has gone before. It is standard fare for bloggers and critics to identify ‘bands that this band sounds a bit like’ and / or ‘bands who share the same influences as this band’. It’s pretty easy to do and gives listeners a reference point or three to help them decide if a new band is going to be their cup of tea or not (it’s also a pretty good way of filling paragraphs).

Take new London five-piece Saltwater Sun for example. They’ve already been likened to Best Coast, Alvvays, Honeyblood, Wye Oak, The Strokes and Karen O, which is not bad considering they only burst onto the scene yesterday. Never ones to shy away from overused journalistic tropes and clichés we thought we’d add another act into the comparison mix.

They sound a bit like a sun-drenched Vuvuvultures. Less in love with the digital granted, but there is a similarity in the rich layers of sound, the feeling of otherworldliness and its punchiness and vibrancy. Given how we felt about the VVV clan, you know this can only be a good thing, and it is.

The guitar on “Habit On My Mind” is heat haze woozy as the bassline rumbles into view on the horizon. It’s a beaten up and fashionably distressed pick-up truck of indie pop laden with beer, BBQ and band in the back. It’s good times and a great debut. More please (and not just so we can think of other bands to compare them to, honest).

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Young Hunting – “Rust”

9 Jan

Young Hunting

In a little bit of a break from the norm, we’re not posting a new track now. No instead we are posting a song that’s a couple of years old and that actually featured on one of our favourite albums of 2013.

Why, you may ask, as a ‘new music blog’ are we posting it then? Well, it’s in part a bit of a celebration and in part because we’ll take any excuse to post music by the stupendously talented Young Hunting.

The celebration comes from a synch they have achieved (which is weird when you think about the stigma that used to come with having your music on commercials and in film/tv – but that’s another blog post) as their song “Rust” features in the new remake of The Gambler. The band are understandably quite excited, excitement that has no doubt been exacerbated with the knowledge that it appears in a scene where Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman are swearing at each other in a bar, so we thought we’d join in and celebrate with them.

And, as we mentioned, the song is gorgeous and we don’t need much of an invitation to post it. The fact that they have just re-posted it online just gives us an added excuse.

Taken from the sublime Hazel, “Rust” is actually oxymoronic in that rather than flake, decay and ebb away, the track builds and builds. Layer is added to layer as the sounds grow and flourish, getting stronger and richer as it does.

Like much of their work though, the beauty and elegance of the instrumentalism is laced with darkness, as shown by the lyrics…

“Baby don’t be so hard on yourself / It’s not your fault we’re all going to hell / But it’s a long long ride / We’ve got some time / So give me something to remember you by / Because one of these days / You won’t wake up / And I’ll be lying in the grave I’ve dug”.

It’s a bit like if someone has made you the best meal you’ve ever had. Your tastebuds are going wild with delight at the flavours and textures, but unbeknownst to you they’ve laced it with Iocane powder, giving all your delight a sinister and tragic denouement.

Still, it’s a bloody gorgeous track and if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to listen to Hazel again while we prepare dinner.

’Hazel’ is out now on Gold Robot Records and you can buy your copy here.

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2015 Preview – Listen Out For – The Full List

8 Dec

2015 Previews The Full List

After 15 individual posts, our countdown of artists we think you should Listen Out For in 2015 was completed this morning when we unveiled Brighton’s Fickle Friends as our #1 tip for next year.

Before we crack on with our end of year lists (tracks first), for those amongst you who are lazy/busy/just like things all in one place (delete as applicable), we have collated the full selection of artists and a handy playlist of tunes from each of them below for your enjoyment. Should you wish to read more about each, just click on their name to see the full article.


#15 – Let’s Eat Grandma

”Rosa and Jenny are two stupefyingly imaginative and creative 15 year old girls who play a multitude of instruments in a multitude of different ways at a multitude of different times within a single song. Not sure if that makes sense? That is just a small part of the joy of Let’s Eat Grandma.”

#14 – Treasureseason

”…their recent Julep EP which is as good as anything they have done and juxtaposes Jess’s rich, lush vocals with their trademark icy and almost Scandinavian in style, electronic production.”

#13 – Chløë Black

““27 Club” is infused with touches of r&b and gospel, as well as [an] elegantly gothic and rich sound”; it is a compelling and captivating tune.”

#12 – Saint Agnes

”They make music that should soundtrack great western epics; epics that would have bar-fights aplenty, harsh inhospitable landscapes and, deadly predators waiting to pick you off at every turn.”

#11 – Waterbed

”Flourishes whistle and call like digital whale song as Cat’s vocals entice and beckon to your ears. It’s Blue Hawaii, Us Baby Bear Bones and MYPET; it’s dance music, has hip-hop beats and is frenetic electronica. It’s pop and it’s great.”

#10 – Daisy Victoria

”She rocks and croons, bounces, dances, spins and swirls, is dark, light, carefree and theatrical, all in the space of five tracks that are not only fantastic but that are also available for free (though we know once you hear them you’ll want to pay something for them).”

#9 – Jagaara

”Their songs are full of emotion and pain, entwined with first delicate then powerfully distressed arrangements. They make music that is not only evocative and often heart-wrenching, “Marble Arch” was wrought with a fist pounding frustration that stirs emotions within and had a suitably belt-it-out-when–you-think-no-one-is-around chorus, but it can also feel soothing and becalming.”

#8 – Black Honey

”…their fuzzy, retro-tinged garage pop sounds are fantastic and in just four tracks they have had us and our contemporaries all of a quiver. They make music that excites, it is dark and fantastical yet sun-tinged and born from very real emotion and desire and we love it.”

#7 – Osca

”Their debut track in particular, “Blood”, had many an esteemed publication pushing the button marked ‘gushing’ when determining which kind of praise to adorn them with. Like most of their songs, the piano driven ballad was simultaneously divine and foot stompingly catchy.”

#6 – Wooden Arms

”We’re massive suckers for the sweeping melodies, the orchestral arrangements, harmonies and ebbing rhythms. They make music to close your eyes to, music to get lost in, music for cold crisp mornings and for late summer evenings.”

#5 – Vérité

”She expertly walks the tightrope between mainstream and chic, with some commentators referring to her as alt-pop, though we like to think of it as just pop. Extremely good, extremely entertaining and enjoyable pop.”

#4 – Yumi Zouma

”We love Yumi Zouma, like properly love Yumi Zouma. Their debut EP was probably the most played release of 2014 at Alphabet Bands HQ and their follow up single “Alena” (as well as their love letter to Air France) has been played to death since its release. They are, for us, one of the bands of the year and we fully expect more of the same in the next 12 months.”

#3 – Rag’N’Bone Man

”Soon we were exploring and dived head first into his (still free) EP, Wolves, which, while lighter on the hip-hop element, is equally fantastic. His Mark Lanegan-esque vocals are raw, powerful and full of soul, yet they also feel tender and brittle with emotion at times.”

#2 – Laurel

”Her soft, ebbing melodies can, in the case of “Shells” for example, like a walk through a silent, dusky wood. Intricate rhythms reveal themselves like branches cracking underfoot as you walk, discovering new wonders behind each tree, beyond each hillock and ditch.”

#1 – Fickle Friends

”Their super light, bright and bouncy pop tunes lit up the year despite often dealing with disillusionment heartbreak and despair. In fact, despite their predilection for lyrics reflecting melancholy and confusion, seem incapable of making music that sounds like anything less than a glorious summer of fun and frivolity. The melodies and arrangements are gloriously infectious and playful and are perfectly complemented with soft, silken vocals.”


Ocean Calling – “White Light”

30 Jul

Ocean Calling

Back in March, Sophie Wilkie reeled us in with nothing more than a quirky and gorgeous pronunciation of the word ‘snow’. That and the superbly evocative song “Desert Sky Scarlet” that contained it.

Having taken us off on a grand adventure around the world, Sophie is back as Ocean Calling and the travel bug has clearly bitten her again, “The open road is calling /out our name / let’s leave tonight” she sings. With a gleam in her eye she smiles and reaches out to us and we can’t help but raise our hand to hers to be whisked off once more.

“White Light” has a gorgeously mid-nineties pop feel to it, dream pop before we knew what dream pop was, like a modern dubstar but with more grandeur and beauty laden within. Her lyrical imagery is exquisite, capturing the breathtaking magnificence of nature. The world around us is majestic and Ocean Calling wants us to experience it, share it and love it. If nothing else, she is making us want to travel and you can be sure that as we ride the train, boat, truck, elephant to wherever and everywhere that it will be her music providing the soundtrack.


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Lauren Aquilina – “Forest Fires”

3 Apr

Lauren Aquilina

When receiving an email that just says ‘I’m starting Forest Fires’, we imagine most people will call the authorities and try to avert a disaster. We’re not wired that way (we’re not 100% sure if that’s a good thing or not actually) and instead we thought, ‘oooh, sounds interesting, what does this link do?’. Thankfully this was not a cry for help, or a random warning of a forthcoming act of arson, no, it was an email from an 18 year old singer songwriter from Windsor and the link was to a heavenly and heavily emotive piano ballad that hit us like a sledgehammer to the soul.

Lauren Aquilina is quite the prodigious talent, having already headlined the BBC Introducing stage at last year’s Reading festival, she has just released her third EP, Liars – which followed Fools and Sinners previously. She also has quite the voice, as she showed all the way back in 2011 with her rich and delicate cover of Oleta Adams’ ”Get Here”. Now, with “Forest Fires”, she’s released a track that will bring a tear to your eye.

Simple, elegant and so very poignant, “Forest Fires” is a tale for the silent masses that suffer day in, day out, fighting a battle with our own psyche that we can never win. For each of us who think so little of ourselves that we are convinced the world thinks even less, yet paradoxically can only ever believe that the pain or anguish of a loved one is our fault. It is for those of us who have no sense of self belief or self worth, so we just sit and watch as our world crumbles around us.

Normally at this point we would be espousing imagery and visual metaphors for the song we were writing about. We could do that here, we could say something about it being like a vast empty room, bathed in darkness and that Lauren’s voice soars and cracks in equal measure, heavy with emotion and torment like a single beam of light, broken by dust and splinters of wood in the roof, shining down on a lonely figure.

We could do this, and really we just did, but actually for once, we just want you to listen to the song. Honestly, it might not do anything for you, it might not be your thing at all and that is fine. But it hit a nerve here and as Lauren sings the faint, brittle coda of ”who would ever want to be around me?”, we could feel our heart breaking.

”Forest Fires” features on Lauren’s latest EP, ‘Liars’, which is out now and available to buy from iTunes. Lauren is also on tour in May and across the summer, all dates can be found here.


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