Broken Islands may be the most heart-breaking listening experience of your year – or maybe the most uplifting, such is the strange brew of raucous guitars and honeyed vocals. Post-rock may have had a somewhat tumultuous hay day, evolving from sheets of amplified power chords to orchestral, if rather directionless, suites of floppy-haired yawning. It was a brave attempt to bring classical techniques to rock and indie music but it failed as bands either misunderstood what they were trying to integrate or took themselves too seriously to an alarming degree. And then there’s Broken Islands.
Broken Islands are the band post-rock should have used as its template for glory. Exceptionally grand and widescreen in scope, this is utterly thrilling, indeed the temptation to wheel out cliched phrases of rapture is almost too much to resist. Listen to the track “Crown” and you risk arrest if not moved to tears. It’s a stunning testament to a band who have only unleashed themselves on the world when they had fully developed as both a band and songwriters. Their album, Wars, has just been released (on red vinyl) and is a potential game-changer.
What to accompany this emotional experience? Well, the band are from Canada so it would be nice to bring that into the mix. Lo’, please enjoy a heart (and body warming brew from those good people at Canada Dry
Ed Nash, the bassist from Bombay Bicycle Club, is now pursuing his own solo career which he sees as his priority for the foreseeable future.
He has also dropped an acoustic video for his latest track, ‘The Sirens’ that features him taking it easy, playing guitar whilst lounging on a lilo in a swimming pool. This live version also includes indie-pop quartet, Flyte, providing the beautiful backing vocals.
Ed is looking to start playing more live gigs now that he has almost finished the album and then he’ll be back in the studio on the journey to making album number two.
Drink: Since this is a fairly chilled out, folky style track, like something you might hear at a festival, I think a cloudy cider would go down well with ‘The Sirens’.
For this track I would suggest a nice fruity cider (preferably cold with a summer breeze and the heat of a BBQ)
The brainchild and alter-ego of James Machin, Derbyshire-based Grawl!x has announced the forthcoming release of his brand new album, Aye! (out May 28th) and shared mesmerising new single, ‘Pando’. ‘Pando‘ is an explosion of sun-drenched colour – with layered guitars, jumping pop beats and yearning vocals, the track was written as an ode to an elusive person that Machin had not heard from in a long time.
Recorded over months of disjointed sessions in various bedrooms and spaces, and featuring vocals and instrumentation by Haiku Salut, Grawl!x’s hypnotic experimental dream-pop album recalls Dan Deacon and Animal Collective at their finest.
Truly captivating; swells of psychedelic guitars accompany layers of distant voices, and hazy, hypnotic drums – stylistically reminiscent of Panda Bear and, in parts, Alt-J. The album theme was derived from a concept taken from the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of dealing with grief, with Aye! (the third album in a trilogy) exploring the final stage – acceptance.
Aye! was written over the course of a number of months in an almost abandoned church on a hill in the Derbyshire countryside. Machin would walk to the church in all weathers, never encountering another soul there. Machin explains: “Inside that rather foreboding structure is an old upright piano, displaying a laminated sheet of paper with the words ‘This Piano was Meant to be Played’. So he did, regularly.
This inspired the concept of an entire church tour – with a full band, Grawl!x played numerous tour dates in some of the UK’s most beautiful churches, bringing audiences Machin’s melodic creations as they were originally intended.
The record’s lyrical themes centre around an unfortunate incident involving a mysterious ‘friend’ of the ex-My Psychoanalyst singer and guitarist. Speaking about these themes, Machin said: “Whereas my response to that would have been to mope around, his was to say ‘YES’ to whatever came his way. An affirmative attitude, that I admired.”
Hence whilst reflections on such dark subjects might in other hands have produced something grim and mawkish, out of grief Machin has wrought songs of beauty and wonder. The multi-instrumentalist played and recorded all of the instruments on Aye!, keen to create an album of two parts – a dream-pop A side and a slicker, electronic B side. Experimental soundscape ‘Compliance’ serves to mark this divide, and signpost a turning point in the album. This is a record about coping with the aftermath of grief – and how life goes on. It’s there in the haunting ‘Destination’ and the cyclical ‘Circadian Riddim’, laden as they are with drum machines and spacey synths.
Final track ‘Gumption’ features instrumentation by acclaimed Derbyshire band Haiku Salut woven around Machin’s carefully constructed soundscapes, these are compositions that tastefully blend acoustic and electronic elements that grow deeper with each listen.
The music James Machin makes as Grawl!x (pronounced ‘Grawlix’- a term used in comic book circles to refer to the ampersands and hash-tags used when a character is using profane language) is gentle and spacious, but with a deep well of feeling that often rises up out of nowhere to take over. This can be joyous, riveting, sometimes even terrifying.
Aye! starts out with simple piano and a string quartet arrangement, a gentle opening that acts as a sort of ‘reset’ button on your world, readying you for the 9 tracks that follow.
Machin will be touring with Grawl!x – full band – in June. Details to follow.
Having already released a 12” on Ambivalent’s new Valence imprint and featured on the latest Innervisions ‘Secret Weapons’ compilation this year, GoldFFinch now return to Tiga’s Turbo Recordings with their new EP, ‘Unworthy’.
Three tracks of tight, lean Techno that ranges from the ominous title track, all pulsing tones and drones and swirling arpeggios, through to the claustrophobic sub-aquatic Techno of ‘Brother’ and onto the martial kick drums and discordant bleeps of ‘Layers’. Meanwhile on the remix front, Sunju Hargun, fresh off his collab with Forrest on Twin Turbo, and Crosstown’s Fur Coat provide the big room reinforcements with new versions of ‘Unworthy’.
Having released critically acclaimed music on some of the best underground House and Techno labels around, including Numbers, Dirtybird, Black Butter, Innervisions and Turbo, GoldFFinch have proven themselves to be more than worthy to carry on the torch of Belgium’s rich history of electronic music.
The LaFontaines – the UK’s finest party band – will release their much anticipated debut album ‘Class’on Monday 8th June via 889 Records with an extensive UK headline tour to mark its release. Plus, the band has announced the first of many festival slots at this year’s T in the Park – performing on the Main Stage and highlighting just how far #Fontmania has come in a such a short space of time.
Produced by Matt O’Grady (You Me At Six/Don Broco), ‘Class’ looks set to provide the boost into the mainstream that the Font boys have been building towards, and follows on from a phenomenal year in 2014. Starting with their debut single release (‘All She Knows’) via LAB Records, the band played their first headline shows in New York in April, supported All Time Low in Glasgow (2500 capacity) and released their second single, ‘Under The Storm’: to widespread airplay (Radio 1, Kerrang!, XFM Scotland, TeamRock Radio plus a plethora of UK Regional Stations) and UK wide press coverage. The year culminated in their biggest headline sold out show to date at Glasgow’s ABC in October (1300 capacity) as well as a tour of the UK and Europe with Watsky.
The latest fruit of this labour is the double A side single ‘Firefly’/’Comfy Slippers’, which will be independently released on June 15th. You can see the stunning animated video for ‘Firefly’ below, with sketchy, monochrome visuals augmenting a classy song about facing your own personal demons head on and the inherent challenges therein.
The singles are both taken from current Johnny Wore Black album ‘Walking Underwater Part 2’. Available now, it followed debut LP ‘Walking Underwater Part 1’ as a double whammy of albums released in 2014 to excellent reviews. ‘Part 2’ sees Johnny Wore Black continue to evolve his unique energy and song writing style, with an intense, passionate lyrical style.
On hearing the singles and the album as a whole it should come as no surprise that this acerbic brand of indie-rock already has fans among music’s top table. Notable followers of Jonny Wore Black include Tim Simenon (Bomb The Bass), Danny Bigfoot (Shanks and Bigfoot), Loretta Heywood (Winter in July), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Simon Hutchby (Earthtone 9) and more.
David Ellefson chose to work alongside Johnny Wore Black on production duties, as did Grammy Award Winner David Bottrill. The fact that such storied veterans of the business believe in the music of Johnny Wore Black goes some way to confirming the potential of this unusually dark artist.
In the words of David Ellefson himself:
“Johnny Wore Black has a very unique sound that I like and as an artist creating a unique sound is one of the hardest things to do, you either have it or you don’t and to me Johnny Wore Black definitely has it.”
On the booming single, lead vocalist and songwriter Tom Harper-Ward had this to say:
“‘Take What You Need’ is a true representation of our sound and musical direction. We hope you enjoy it!”
Brilliantly self-produced, the track above is a great example of their layered and intricate approach to songwriting, with heavier moments acting as punctuation to the more contemplative sections. It’s hugely impressive work from a band who are still only in their late teens, but show a great deal of maturity in their music.
With four members who share a deep love for creating music, and tastes that overlap to create their varied indie back catalogue, Looking For Liam are a band who not only benefit from a great deal of talent at present, but the great potential to expand on it. That makes this band one of the most exciting in the UK right now.
Formed in 2010, they first gained momentum in 2011 with a Battle of the Bands competition win, BBC Introducing coverage and a debut EP. Since then they have added another Battle of the Bands contest victory plus an appearance at Brownstock Festival to their CV, and with new single ‘Take What You Need’ coming on June 1st their stock is set to rise further.
A hard hitting melodic rock group with echoes of Incubus with added rawness, Looking For Liam are an Essex based four piece band who have also been compared to the wide ranging indie sounds and created an anthemic fusion of Muse, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys. That those acts are so eclectic in their approach gives you an idea of what is so special about Looking For Liam – their ability to write indie-rock music with a number of different styles and tropes.
Influenced by greats like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, this is an artist with incredible potential with songs like EP track ‘Easy Gone, Easy Come’, which you can find here:
Produced by Sam Jones (Alex Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae) and John Bramwell of I Am Kloot, the EP is just the latest step in what is shaping up to be a very promising music career.
With a live BBC Manchester session and a feature in national Acoustic Magazine already under his belt, Dave Fidler’s previous single ‘Taking Over’ has really started to make waves for the singer-songwriter. Easy Gone, Easy Come, is the title track from the new EP which is set to retain Dave’s upward trajectory come June 1st.
Based in the North West, Dave Fidler is a supremely talented acoustic guitarist, whose folk style and intricate finger picking underneath a distinct vocal has the ability to warm and break your heart in equal measure. His songs spin tales we can all relate to, around themes of love, loss and birth – all themes shaped by Fidler’s own personal life over the last year or so.
Music is clearly a true passion for the singer-songwriter, who also runs a music school and charity alongside touring. It’s all very impressive work, and with a barge tour of the UK in the works as well as a potential prisons tour at the end of the year, it’s clear to see that Dave is approaching things in a different way.
If you’re still not convinced, we challenge you to watch his recent session for cult YouTube Channel ‘Ont’ Sofa’ without being supremely impressed:
UK born but now US based, John Graham’s new album is set to reach these shores showcasing slick, contemporary indie-rock with electronic touches and a heap of swagger. With influences including the Stone roses, Kasabian, The Cure, Depeche mode and more, it’s an album full of ideas which is primed to make an impact. The album is something of a departure for Graham, whose previous work under the name Quivver has seen him gaining countless plaudits producing house and techno music.
However, ‘Cold Sun’ and lead single ‘Roll the Dice’ prove that there are multiple strings to this particular bow, by turning out tunes which are strongly based on the indie rock genre. These hook laden, energetic tracks are then laced with dynamic electronic ideas, ported over from his experience in the EDM genres, to give them extra flavour. It’s not common that indie, rock and electronic ideas are mixed so effectively, with the latter adding superb textures to the former, and it’s certainly one hell of a combination thanks to the subtlety of John Graham’s genre bending.
The ‘Cold Sun’ album has been in the making for many years, being written in snatched time between full time work as a house and techno DJ and producer. It’s release is the culmination of an ambition John Graham has had for many years – to create a collection of songs that don’t fit neatly into a specific genre, and demonstrate just how versatile his writing can be.
Single ‘Roll the Dice’ is out June 1st, to be followed on June 29th by the ‘Cold Sun’ album, both through Distinctive Records.