Tag Archives: Embers

2016 Preview: Artists to Listen out for Part Four

11 Dec

Listen Out For... (3)

We continue our look ahead to next year with three more acts we are particularly excited to hear more from in 2016. This part of the countdown actually includes a couple of acts we’ve got all excited about before, but then they went and hid for a year or so, so with new music just released or on the horizon, we’ve allowed ourselves a little indulgence and a lot of giddiness in writing about them again.

Don’t forget, you can also look back and see who else is getting us hot under the musical collar for next year in the previous parts of our 2016 Preview.

Part One (here)
Part Two (here)
Part Three (here)


#6 – Avec Sans

Avec Sans

After a storming and highly enjoyable 2013, Avec Sans found their way onto our 2014 preview. At the time we, and Popjustice, were jumping up and down on the bed in anticipation of their debut album. Sadly the album didn’t arrive but the pair have been in the studio recently so we are allowing our hopes to get up for 2016.

The reason we are so excited, as we pointed out back then (and it still holds true now) is because we absolutely adore their fantastically upbeat and danceable tunes. Electro sparkles and beats flash and pulse like a grand firework display against a night sky of synths and melody. Choruses are made to be sung along to while your feet tap and shuffle, heads nod, arms twist and bodies convulse in rhythmical movement; sprung into life by the infectious and compelling sounds.

Stalk Avec Sans: Facebook / Twitter


#5 – Embers

embers_1

Another band we included on our 2014 preview list was Manchester based Embers. They too had a great 2013 after bursting on the scene in explosive fashion at the end of 2012 with the remarkable “Hollow Cage”. They released a couple more tunes, played some incredible live shows (including one we saw at The Great Escape that nearly melted our face off) and then, with the world waiting with baited breath for them to own 2014, they vanished.

While that was disappointing for all us fans, the good news is that they are back, once again bursting into life as the year ends with a fantastic new tune (“The Bitten Tongue) and this time there is the promise of much more. Tunes have been written and, we hope, are ready to go. Expectation levels are high once again but we’re sure these guys can more than meet them. It might be a couple of years later than we thought, but this could be the year of Embers.


Stalk Embers: Website / Facebook / Twitter


#4 – The Japanese House

THEJAPANESEHOUSE

With a Zane Lowe premiered debut track a place on the Dirty Hit roster and The 1975 on production duties, The Japanese House appeared in 2015 feeling fully formed and sounding beautiful. Her two highly acclaimed EPs, Pools to Bathe In and Clean took us on magical journeys of gorgeous emotional highs and lows, all set to wondrously intricate electronic compositions.

Amber Bain dazzled us with her multi layered melodies and beguiling androgynous vocal. Icy production freezes crisp digital beats and hearts before melting away in the warmth of the synth lines and those near distorted harmonies. It is utterly gorgeous stuff and no wonder that she has appeared on many a list this year, including the Blog Sound of 2016.

Expect to see her on more before the year is out and with rumours of an album to come next year, expect to find her on many a Best Of… list in 12 months time as well.

Stalk The Japanese House: Facebook / Twitter

2014 Preview – Listen Out For – The Full List, and a little extra…

7 Dec

2014 Previews The Full List

So, after a week and a half and 15 individual posts, our countdown of artists we think you should Listen Out For in 2014 is complete. Before we crack on (next week) with our end of year lists, 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 below with a handy soundcloud playlist of all 15 for your enjoyment. Should you wish to read more about each, just click on their name to see the full article.

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, we even have a little bonus below the playlist of the acts who almost made the 15 but who we felt were too good to leave off entirely. Some honourable mentions if you will.

#15 – Mega Emotion

”Full of big brash sounds, riffage and booming beats it also features soothing vocals and retro-sensibilities. It’s raw and powerful but calm and quiet too, like a circus muscle man cuddling a poodle or something.”

#14 – Mononoke

”What we do know is that she is blessed with quite a voice and, judging by her debut track “Alice”, song writing talent. With her tragically beautiful lament to a little girl trapped in a grown up world, a life of lost love, apathy and melancholy, she has set the bar very high.”

#13 – Port Isla

“As well as being super talented, they are the kind of lovely people that you just want to do well. They make such enthusiastic and warm music that you can’t help but like them.”

#12 – NONONO

”“Pumpin Blood” is the track that has broken out everywhere, with its ‘gets under your skin’ whistle. You may not know it, but you would probably recognise it. Big and brash, vibrant and frenetic, it’s the seven dwarves whistling while they work having dropped some acid and taken speed.”

#11 – Fractures

”…the gorgeous dreamy electro sounds of “Twisted”, complete with soft, soulful falsetto vocals that would stop a rhino’s heart, and the evocative crescendos of atmospheric folksiness on “Embers” were soon joined by the fabulous “Cadence” and “Tizer”.”

#10 – Embers

”They played two sets at The Great Escape, one in a grand high-ceilinged venue that allowed their music to spread and soar, the other in the cramped space of the Mesmerist pub where their sound exploded out at the audience, pummelling them with intensity and energy as veins bulged and sinews strained. It was one of the most intense, in your face performances we saw all year and we loved it.”

#9 –

”She is an artist that creates genuine excitement and a buzz of anticipation whenever she is about to perform. She even had the audacity to upstage the headlining AlunaGeorge on her recent UK tour and won many more fans in so doing.”

#8 – Pale

”It’s synth pop but ice cold, too cold even for Van Damme as it slides along stealthily like a glacier, taking you in its cool hand off to a world of desolate beauty. A world where the stark surroundings, the bleakness and desolation carry a majestic splendour, it’s not a world of disrepair but one that has been lovingly tended and cultured.”

#7 – Pawws

”Our love for the music of Pawws was immediate and full on, an infatuation. Her music is instantly accessible and enjoyable with influences from the likes of Robyn, Annie and Madonna and vocals that are beautifully sweet and heartfelt. She can do big vibrant rainbows of sound, all danceable and bright and she can do genteel and calm as well.”

#6 – Gems

”The vocals are sweet and breathless, a whispered caress on a smooth gossamer breeze of synths and electronic beats. Weightless and elegant, like moments of purity handed down from above, unsullied and unspoiled for us to enjoy and bathe in their beauty.”

#5 – Iyes

”They make pop music, but it’s not homogenised pre-packaged pop, it’s edgy and different but with enough accessibility to transcend the blogosphere and break the mainstream consciousness. Like Chvrches but without as many 80’s reference points and fewer lasers.”

#4 – Lyla Foy

”The songs are reflective and the arrangements offer an intimacy to the listener, a closeness brought from the instrumentation, the emotion and purity of the music and lyrics. It’s delicate, like the frayed edges of a heart whose thread could be pulled at any moment, and it’s utterly gorgeous.”

#3 – Avec Sans

”What they do so well, and what we absolutely adore, is make fantastically upbeat and danceable tunes. Electro sparkles and beats flash and pulse like a grand firework display against a night sky of synths and melody. Choruses are made to be sung along to while your feet tap and shuffle, heads nod, arms twist and bodies convulse in rhythmical movement; sprung into life by the infectious and compelling sounds.”

#2 – Empress Of

”Her music is addictive and tingle making, high art meets pop accessibility in the most gorgeous manner. Seductive tones, swirling melodies that draw you in and buffet you gently along as the beats take synths by the hand and swoon and sway along like cavorting partners, clinging to each other in the low light of a slow dance.”

#1 – Sivu

”He is a beguiling artist, telling tales born in the shadows of anguish, or inspired by theology in a rousing and heartswelling manner. Acoustic sounds marble with electronic embellishments, strings ebb and flow with the tide and all the while, introspections and observations pour out like nectar for our soul. It is entirely possible, ironically, to lose yourself in his lightly rasping voice and warm melodies. Even when singing “Coldhands” is like a walk across a warm yellow corn field on a calm day, fingers running over the tops of the long stems as they are rustled by a gentle breeze.”


Honourable Mentions…

Curxes

Curxes

If you’re wondering what that massive kaboom sound was just then, it was your senses under attack and your brain screaming out for more. Portsmouth/Brighton pair Curxes make blitz-pop and there’s no escape from its aural magnificence and energy. Last year they were one of the most blogged about artists in the UK (despite having no PR or representation) and while 2013 has been comparatively quiet, the new songs they played for us at Norwich Sound and Vision in October are sounding amazing and could take them to a whole new level in 2014.


Strangers

Strangers London Lights

We’ve been championing the case for this London trio for some time now and with their debut EP on the way, and a follow up scheduled for the new year it could well be that the breakthrough they’ve threatened for so long could be about to happen. Their dark hued electro pop is common cold level catchy but immensely enjoyable and danceable. And while you can get your groove on whilst sneezing your face inside out, we wouldn’t recommend it. Get down to some Strangers instead, it’s much more fun.


Jack Robert Hardman

jack_robert_hardman

Our main man Jack. As our ‘H’ artist we have been following the fortunes of Mr Hardman for a while now and we feel that bigger and better things are just around the corner. His debut album made our end of year list in 2012 and while this year has been more about remixing and a charming little video (below), 2014 should be all about JRH. There’s a new EP on the way, with guest vocalists and artists a-go-go and judging by the unfinished demos we heard a couple of months back, it’s going to be a beauty.


Abi Wade

Abi Wade

One woman, one cello, two foot pedals and an array of sound, melody, rhythms and innovation. Yes, she is a pair of cymbals between her knees away from full-on-market-square-one-man-band-status, but while that shark remains unjumped she is an incredible live performer and musician. She’s got the songs to back it up as well, beautiful and soothing but also full of drama and emotion when they need to be. She’s been writing recently so hopefully that means an album could be on the way in 2014.


Leon Else

Leon Else

Be it fantastical and mystical or very much down to earth and even carnal, Leon Else can and will deliver a tune and half with the deep but light rumbling vocal at its heart. He sees the world slightly differently from most of us but that just makes his music all the more interesting and captivating. With radio play from the likes of Radio 1 and Amazing Radio already under his belt, 2014 could well see his proclamation that the future is


Laura Welsh

Laura Welsh

Laura’s sophisticated, R&B infused pop has passed through our inbox on the odd occasion over the last few months and while we always very much enjoyed it, other commitments meant we never quite got round to writing about it (despite intending to). On seeing her supporting London Grammar recently, we were instantly filled with regret that said posts never made it out of our heads and onto the page. She was fantastic. Big danceable sounds were offset with a deceptively big and powerful vocal and softer, gentler moments were treated with care and affection. 2014 should be a big one for Laura and we won’t be making the mistake of not writing about her again, trust us.


UK Blog Sound of 2014 Longlist Revealed

3 Dec

Blog Sound Of 2014

You may have noticed, it was hard to miss frankly as Twitter was all of a flurry, that yesterday (2 Dec) the BBC released their Sound of 2014 Longlist. As with the last couple of years, we bloggers have responded to the internal question we often ask (why should they have all the fun?) and produced our own list of artists we, collectively, love and have high hopes for next year.

We’ve bolded ‘love’ there, because that is the most important word. When asked to vote, the onus was put on upcoming artists we adore, not specifically ones we think could be massive. Perhaps the list would more closely resemble the BBC’s had we done so, but we doubt it this year. There is such a wide range of fantastic music spanning so many genres right now that forming any kind of consensus is going to be difficult. Indeed, over 100 acts were nominated by 59 blogs, with the majority getting just the one vote each. So anyone who thinks we all just like and post the same stuff as each other can think again.

Now, you might not agree with the list, only one of our top 3 made the Longlist and only four of our own Longlist of 15 (some are still to be revealed so you can have fun guessing who the remaining ones are) are included. So, while we have no fundamental disagreements with those who are listed below, we think you’ll agree there are a couple of surprises in there.

Before we get to the list, here’s some quick background from organisers Robin and Andy of Breaking More Waves and The Von Pip Musical Express respectively.

The Blog Sound Poll was first published in 2011. The concept of the poll wasn’t to criticise the established BBC Sound of list, but simply an experiment to see if UK music bloggers could come up with its own list of emerging artists that was more representative of their community and give the artists that were nominated some extra publicity. Indeed the idea was to compliment the BBC list in many ways by providing an alternative to compare and contrast.

The 2011 list contained some interesting alternatives to the BBC list including Mercury Prize winners Alt-J and Bastille who have found huge commercial success in the UK in 2013. The 2012 list was more similar to the BBC list with Haim being the runaway winners, followed closely by Chvrches.

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 poll is the biggest yet with 59 blogs each nominating their 3 favourite emerging artists. It has been retitled to give emphasis to the fact that it is a list created by UK bloggers, although the choices of music can come from around the world.

The Top 3 will be revealed on 2 January, but for now here are the 16 acts that made the longlist.

The Nominated Artists For The UK Blog Sound Of 2014

Banks – Sultry electronic music with a hint of soul from Los Angeles.


Embers – Cinematic and vast indie rock from Manchester


George Ezra – Singer songwriter with a bluesy voice

Hella Better Dancer – Dark and fiery indie rock band


Hockeysmith – Genre hopping sister duo from Cornwall


Honeyblood – Raw d-i-y indie rock two piece from Glasgow


Iyes – Edgy sweetly melodic pop duo from Brighton


Khushi – Endearing East London singer who sits somewhere between pop, indie and folk


Lyla Foy – Previously known as Wall, creator of delicate, brooding, intimate pop


Marika Hackman – Singer songwriter with haunting folk references


Mt Wolf – Dreamy sounding band that combine electronics, acoustic music and ambient atmospherics with near operatic vocals.


Royal Blood – Brighton duo that play gritty lo-fi rock with attitude


Rhodes – Stripped back acoustic singer songwriter


Sivu – Idiosyncratic singer songwriter


Sophie Jamieson – Calm, atmospheric folk musician


Wolf Alice – Edgy rock band who take references from grunge and indie.


The final shortlist of three and the overall winner will be announced on 2 January. See you back here for that.


The Participating Blogs

Also in alphabetical order:

17 Seconds / A Pocket Full Of Seeds / All Noise / Alphabet Bands / Beat Surrender / Both Bars On / Brapscallions / Breaking More Waves / Brighton Music Blog / Cat From Japan / Daisy Digital / Details Of My Life So Far / Don’t Watch Me Dancing / Dots And Dashes / Drunken Werewolf / Eaten By Monsters / Echoes and Dust / Electronic Rumors / Faded Glamour / God Is In The TV / Gold Flake Paint / Hearty Vibes / I Love Pie / In Love Not Limbo / Just Music That I Like / Killing Moon / Like 1999 / Little Indie Blogs / Love Music : Love Life / Music Broke My Bones / Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt / My Bands Better Than Your Band / My Day By Day Music / Not Many Experts / Peenko / Pop Dodger / Repeat Button / Scientists of Sound / Scottish Fiction / Skeletory / Sleep In Music / Some Of It Is True / Sound Influx / Sounds Good To Me Too / Sounds Of Now Music / Sweeping The Nation / The Blue Walrus / The Devil Has The Best Tuna / The Electricity Club / The Evening’s Empire / The Mad Mackerel / The Metaphorical Boat / The Sound Of Confusion / The Underclassed / This Must Be Pop / The Von Pip Musical Express / Thoughts On Music / When The Gramophone Rings

2014 Preview: Listen Out For #10 – Embers

2 Dec

Embers

Just under 12 months ago, as the curtains were being drawn on 2012 and we were preparing to switch off the light, four guys from Manchester knocked on the door and asked to come in for a moment. Seven minutes was all they asked for and seven minutes was granted. Before those seven minutes were even over, 2012 had thrown open the curtains, discarded it’s dressing gown and was hastily pulling up its jeans, yelling to everyone who could hear, ‘wait, wait, I’m not done yet, there’s more and its really special’.

The four guys were Embers and the seven minutes belonged to the grandiose noise of “Hollow Cage”, a track which came just in time to storm our end of year list but too late to influence our (and many other bloggers) 2013 previews. A month earlier, we said at the time, and the Blog Sound of 2013 longlist could have looked quite different.

After that explosion into the blogoshpere’s collective consciousness, 2013 progressed quite steadily for Embers. Building gradually like the cinematic narrative of the aforementioned “Hollow Cage” as they first supported then headlined numerous shows and released a new single, the storming “Part Of The Echoes”. They played two sets at The Great Escape, one in a grand high-ceilinged venue that allowed their music to spread and soar, the other in the cramped space of the Mesmerist pub where their sound exploded out at the audience, pummelling them with intensity and energy as veins bulged and sinews strained. It was one of the most intense, in your face performances we saw all year and we loved it.

The build has been steady but ultimately there will come a crescendo, an explosion of sound and success that their promise surely demands and deserves.

2014 is just about to wake up, and Embers are waiting outside ready to knock on the door.


Stalk Embers: Website / Facebook / Twitter

We do like to be beside the seaside… The Great Escape 2013

20 May

TGE13

Over the last few months we have cast covetous looks at twitter as friends and acquaintances have been getting ever more excited as this year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton approached. Knowing that we couldn’t go, we steadfastly tried to avoid looking wistfully at the line up and cursing our absence. Then something magical happened and suddenly Saturday at the festival was happening and a fantastic day we had too.

We may be the only ones, but multi-venue festivals featuring genuinely exciting up-and-coming new bands playing in a more urban environment, are much more appealing than standing up to your knees in mud, in a space where your tent used to be, with the smell from broken toilets filling your nostrils as in the distance an over-hyped band of questionable quality play middling tunes.

So it was that on Saturday, in and amongst the winding lanes of the city and on the occasionally garishly festooned seafront that we attended our first ever Great Escape, and we had a great time.

In just a few hours we were treated to full sets from nine bands and some quality chat with fellow bloggers, all of whom had convened for the day’s entertainment. Our main musical highlights are below but special mention should also go to Blue Hawaii, Eye Emma Jedi and Lulu James, each of whom put on storming sets that were vastly different to one another. The Jedi clan should be particularly commended as theirs was performed at short-notice to replace another act who couldn’t attend, and a few hours before their actual scheduled slot elsewhere later in the evening.


Embers
Playing in the tight surroundings of a packed Mesmerist pub, expectation for the much vaunted and blogged about Embers are high, very high indeed. Certainly much higher than the low ceilings that hang over their heads, offering an immediate challenge for a sound that likes room to breathe and expand, to find every nook and cranny in vast expanses and fill them to bursting. That cannot happen here and instead the sound explodes out at an audience so close to the action they are practically on stage, pummelling them with intensity and energy instead. They offer the kind of excitement and energy that NME promised us Palma Violets would offer, and then some. Veins bulge and sinews are strained as “Part of Echoes” (in particular) rises up and threatens to take the floor above with it. They may well be best suited to epic surroundings, but Embers sure can rock the tiny venues to their core as well.



Velvet Two Stripes
Beneath the promenade of cars on the main road, each pootling along the seafront with not a care in the world, something is brewing. Where you would normally expect to find DJ’s, disco and dance, today there is a trio of Swiss ladies, and they have come to rock. As baselines throb, electronics spasm and shudder into life, as vocals shriek out and drums thunder and boom, there is one more element that grabs the audience by its collective nutsack and won’t let go. Leaning slightly forward and staring straight ahead, resplendent in what appears to be a small cowboy hat and wearing the look of someone who knows just how damn good she is, stands Sara. In her hands, a weapon of such potent devastation it could bring Brighton to its knees should she wish it. From this stringed beast comes the sort of grinding, wailing licks that require you to pick your jaw back up from the floor after you’ve heard them. She effortlessly wields her guitar and coaxes from it solos and riffs that appear to conjure up the Ghost of Hendrix to play them. If we could play guitar, we’d want to play it like Velvet Two Stripes’ Sara, we imagine there’s more than one professional out there who thinks the same.



**HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT** – MØ
Following a set by the colourful effervescence of Lulu James can’t ever be easy but Danish purveyor of noodle-pop goodness, Karen Marie Ørsted (or MØ as she is better known) more than manages. Dressed in black and with a long plaited ponytail trailing down her back, she walks on stage with a look that parents of teenagers everywhere will know only too well. The challenging ‘yeah, what of it’ look that politicians point to when making statements about Broken Britain. We don’t know if there is an equivalent where MØ is from (Destroyed Denmark perhaps?) but it is a look she has perfected. What follows is a set of surprising and stunning energy and showmanship. She prowls around the stage, her plait whirling as she flings her head around, fists pumping the air and her legs, hips, feet and everything else jerk and thrust as she power dances. Sounds that transmit pleasantly from your stereo are injected with verve and vigour and attitude. She closes with “Pilgrim” which is transformed into something altogether more vibrant, the call of “Holla/Holla/Holla” is no longer a delicate piece of backing, here it is a full on, shout along call to arms. She has won many new followers to her cause tonight, of that there is no doubt, even if she does look like she could pull a knife and demand your wallet at any minute.


Chvrches
Closing the night for us, and our day of musical adventure, is Scottish electro-pop trio, Chvrches. Expectations are high and queues snake outside as excited festival-goers desperately seek entry into what is one of the hottest tickets (or wristbands) of all three days. Those lucky enough to get in are treated to a set that only enhances their reputation as one of the bands to watch out for right now. Not even the proclamation from an injured and bandaged Lauren (wrist) that all the men will die earlier than the women can dampen the audiences enthusiasm, not even the males. We are treated to a set of nine infectious electro-pop songs (with a real and very welcome emphasis on the pop element) that behove movement and that uplift and invigorate. As the air is dissected by green lasers and a tunnel of smoke surrounds Lauren from above, it is clear that there is more to Chvrches than a line of viciously entertaining and amazing tunes and by crikey what tunes they are. Big things are coming for these guys, no question.