February 2016

February has been and gone. Despite it normally being such a grim month and such a short month I have been besieged by amazing releases this month. Check the playlist here as we start off with some gentle ambient rock before winding up the pace and the intensity. Then I take you down to the ultimate chill and some of the most beautiful songs ever.

Rocksteady- By the Rivers
Starting off this month is some Leicester relaxed ska. ‘Relaxed’ referring to pace- there’s an extremely tight brass section and although it’s not strictly new (2003!) it’s new to their online library and a great tune to begin with.

All This Love- The Landed
An actually new track is All This Love, (released 23/02). It’s great gentle melodic rock- punchy delivery on the vocals based around a noodly indie recurring riff.

Chaser- Night Flowers
A Night Flowers track was part of the first ever playlist I made (now removed). It was titled ‘to read to’ but don’t let that put you off this great band. This new indie release (pay what you to download here) fits right into their unique brand of shoegazer, anthemic rock.

Burnt Out- Elka
Next up is a contender for ear-worm of the month. Fresh from debut album (released 09/03) you’ll struggle to get the chorus line out your head for weeks. A sweet breakdown and tasty bass on this track hints that the album will be one to look out for.

Swings- SPill
SPiLL has come back after a long break away and tantalisingly says that this ambient glitchty masterpiece is but a taste of what is to come. As a free download you can’t go wrong, and the samples are guaranteed to get you mildly twitching.

Quasimondo- Scant Regard
The twitching will only continue with the latest from leather and scary guitar riff lover Scant Regard (scantregard.com) I’ve no idea how such a simple song can be so hypnotising and intimidating. A great contrast to his work with Adam Ant.

Paramount- Sketchman
Maintaining this feel, the new mix by Mista Noisy is a lyrical whiplash of a track. I’ve no idea how this can be performed without asphyxiation, the barrage is constant and annihilating. Notwithstanding the references to Sean Connery and the Wizard of Oz, this is definitely the least ambient track this month, in a great way.

Drown Me Out- She Makes War
Drown Me Out is loud and emotional and yet immensely strong at the same time. Nothing is held back in the delivery, and yet all the energy is channelled expertly. Check out this link for more free tracks and take a moment to look at the great accompanying art work.

Closer- Cape Cup
Another contender for ear-worm of the month. This song is a great stirrer of emotions yet nicely chilled at the same time. Released 8/2.

States of Emotion- Back to Back
Crashing symbols, gentle background synths and heart-wrenching vocals that give you no option but to let it wash it over with you. Warning- may induce slow head-banging.

Underwater- GraceSarah
GraceSarah gives us a bit of a respite with this lovely floating track. I can’t help but think of a sunrise whenever this comes on, perfect tune to end the night on.

Little Darling- Heidi Brown 
A great bluesy swinging soulful rendition from multi-instrumentalist Heidi Brown. This is from her latest album, out on iTunes from the 14/2, and like the others I’ve heard it’s got the potential to be a real weeper.

Time- Beth Porter & The Availables
I love hearing well-arranged strings. In this tune they interweave and mesh beautifully with Beth’s lovely voice. Fans of Cate Le Bon drop everything and stop by here.

Runaway- Anna Pancaldi
Singer-Songwriter Anna Pancaldi has a lovely smokey rusky voice. Fresh from her ‘Dear Joey’ EP this track is powerful and clean, building to a choral climax that just sounds beautiful.

February 14th- James Cook Music
I first came across James Cook with his wonderful version of Kraftwerk’s Neon Lights. This track as part of his 3rd Solo Album ‘Anti Love Songs’ is just as thoughtfully arranged- orchestrated pop at it’s best.

Sigh No More, Ladies- Wesfinch
Another playful response to Valentines Day came in this form from Wesfinch. Halfway between folk and singer-songwriter, only Wesfinch could get away with phrases like ‘Hey Nonny Nonny.’

How Not To Woo A Woman- The Bookshop Band
A return to more traditional forms of British Folk with the Bookshop Band. The lyrics tell a lovely little story in the midst of strings, and choral style backing vocals. It conjures lovely images of some of the smaller, close-knit festivals.

Stone- Apples of my Eye
To my deep shame I haven’t yet made it to a gig by these guys. Youtube footage from Union Chapel London shows that they can put on a gorgeous live performance and this track is full of their harmonic layers of voices and strings. Modern folk at it’s finest.

Quietly- Sophie Morgan
Lovely gentle soothing flowing folk from Sophie Morgan that is deliciously melancholic. Impossible to not become lost in, carried carefully downstream by the melody and orchestral accompaniments.

Thoughts Underground- Mike Vass Ft Yoann Mylonakis
Mike Vass takes us even further down the soothing flowing road with his magically ambient piano. The beauty numbs my brain every time – this one you’re going to have to listen to for yourself.

Surfer Girl- Happyness
My favourite cover this month is the Happyness version of the Beach Boys track. They somehow manage to retain all of the chill from the original despite using just one laptop mic. Not for the audiophiles, but great quality all things considered and a lovely lovely cover.

Circles- Kirby Howarth
Free download (for now) takes us firmly into the realm of the singer-songwriter. Hugely personal- an emotive exploration of love, change, and regret.

Shame- Ciaran Lavery
Ciaran has exactly the right voice for this type of song- coarse yet tender in a way reminiscent of Willie Nelson. Full of feeling and great to wrap yourself up in.

Wolves- August and After
New to me are August and After. I really loved this track, constantly swelling and crashing alongside gorgeous string and piano accompaniment.

You’re Alright- Eva Stone
I’m a real sucker for the type of sunny optimistic vocals jangling about here. Enthused with a laid-back samba beat this tune is exactly right to wake up to on a Sunday morning.

The Child in Me- Mildred’s Diary
My favourite this month is Mildred’s Diary and their wonderful Scottish indie-folk. Every time I listen to this I find something new I like- the whispered background vocals, the layers of percussion, the touching lead vocals delivery. This is more story than song, but one you can’t help but sing along to.

 

 

 

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January 2016

19 Stupendous tracks have been chosen for this month’s top unsigned releases. Listen to the complete playlist here and read below to see why I’ve selected these.

Raving Wild- At the Crossroads (Live)
There’s always one droningly hypnotising track on my playlists and Raving Wild is my one for January. The piano stupefies you into slowly nodding in time whilst you soar on the wings of the distorted vocals and guitar.

Those Unfortunates- Happy New Year
Stepping aside from their usual jerky aggression those unfortunates have crafted a lovely drifting melodica-infused soundscape. Listen to this just as dawn breaks.

Rodeo Terrorists- F and B
More of the same from Rodeo Terrorist Richard- reassuring electronica, nice gentle ambience and no nasty surprises or shocks.

Kid Methuselah- Bloop
The title says it all for this track. A fantastic ambient bloop-fest with many other interesting noises interspersed throughout.

Snippet- Wave Your Sound
I’ve blogged about Snippet previously, and it’s no suprise to find him back in my best tracks. Nice chilled background music crafted from interesting samples and soporific loops.

Elle Marry- You’re Looking Great
I don’t stick many covers in but this one deserves it. A beautifully simple arrangement of the Secret Admirer track- with wistful harmonies that reinforce the futility of it all.

Ella Janes- The Lake
Ella always sings like she is smiling. Perhaps it is just because she enjoys her work so much, but here it adds a malevolent aspect- dangerous like the winter.

Marina Florance- I Told You My Troubles
Marina perhaps already has the biggest following of any artists on this list. Her latest ambient folk singer song-writer release fully reinforces and justifies this. A lovely voice and a lovely unhurried, uncomplicated playing style.

Heidi Brown- Under the Weather
If I was feeling mean I’d call this pathetic fallacy. However I’m not, and it’s truly great. Heidi is one of the best multi-instrumentalists out there and for this she plays piano violin and vocals.

Lake Komo- Resurrect
What makes this song for me is the juxtaposition of thunderous rythm and autotune. Reading those words back makes me question my judgement- it’s not an obvious match- but trust me it works.

Arctic Turn- Bye Bye Barry
Arctic Turn show us here how to effectively ingrain the harp into a post-pop track. They paint a wonderful winter landscape with the harp playing over the phrases like sunlight over dappled leaves.

Jack Conman- Heroin Strings
Here Donnovan meets Bon Iver, a sort of Doniver. However, much more than the sum of it’s parts, Jack has produced a gritty, heartfelt lament. With haprischord.

Nonbeliever- It’s Just Not Good For You
For the first 20 seconds you could be forgiven for thinking that Blur had released a previously unheard track. Top stuff.

The Gorgeous Chans- San Sebastian
I swear I’ve heard this before, but that may just be the signature sound of Nottingham based noodly-indie pop group the Gorgeous Chans. Great hooks, layering of horns and a playful melody. Fans of Vampire Weekend etc look no further for your new favourite.

Courts- Glass Half Empty
This is a tune that can’t be paused. Even if the fire alarm sounds you have to stay and listen in full. The vocals are relentless and would have made a fantastic track as it is- but add a kickass guitar/sax solo and you really feel the power.

Wilsoni Tha’ Funk Master- Slow Asstley Beat
A break from some of the colder sounding tracks this month Wilsoni brings back sounds of the sea and a yearning for Summer. Somehow he’s managed to pull off the ultimate rickroll and produce a genuinely decent beat from Asstley on morphine.

The Hart Strings- Indiana (Live)
My favourite this week is a fantastic live track from The Hart Strings. When this comes on your headphones you can’t stop twitching, singing along, or generally causing concern to other commuters. Trust me- you can’t.

 

 

December

Click here to listen to the whole playlist

23 is a good number. Once more I’ve mercilessly whittled down the massive amount of submissions to bring to you the very best of what was uploaded this month.

Mattie Ginsberg- Brawd a Chwaer
Mattie is a massively prolific artist. I once attempted to listen to his entire catalogue but the neighbours complained before I finished it. This is one of a few he uploaded in December, and has his typical gruff, rough and ready style. It’s wonderful- a modern Snowdonian bard.

Where Fires Are- Your Brother
Where Fires Are describe this track as ‘Alternative Rock’ but that hardly does it justice. Anthemic, whistleable, powerful rock that gets stuck in your head for weeks. Also, if you’re training for Tough Mudder check out the video for a laugh

Matthew Falloon- Strike Me Blind
This track is strong in lyric and in melody. It’s all too easy to picture a dejected Matthew, slumped over a piano in the smokey air of an underground bar, pouring out his soul to anyone that will listen.

UOVO- Angry Gnomes
I don’t know what magic has gone into this track, but UOVO takes you on a whimsical journey full of pipes, small stringed instruments and the voices of angry gnomes. Fans of Euros Childs need to listen to this.

Fishclaw- Laura Lynn
Fishclaw really spoilt me this month, and I had four great uploads to choose between. Fantastic post-rock modern folk instrumental that’s reminiscent of Balmorhea, the Clogs  and Peter Broderick.

The Gravity Drive- Fun
I haven’t been the first to rave about this one as it’s already celebrated by BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio 2 & XFM. From the debut album Testament a clean sounding pop song grounded in harmony and melody.

Ropestore- You Said This Wouldn’t Happen To Us
It feels wierd following a husband and wife duo (the gravity drive) with such a passive aggressive relationship angst ridden track. Fans of The Dodos will appreciate the simple catchy melody floating underneath some intensely personal lyrics that are sung/spoken.

Organised Scum- Anti Sleaze Track
Organised Scum describe this track as ‘a sort of Roxy Music versus Dino Jr Vibe’. It’s nowhere near as chaotic as you would expect this to sound, but the intense passion in the vocals spill over nicely from the composure of the rest of the crew.

Jim Pearson- Stomp
At the time of writing this belter has only had 22 plays, and I think 20 of them are me. For just a demo the production is fantastic. The concept and the style is simple but relentless and instantly relatable. Can’t wait to hear the finished version.

Wesfinch- The One You Let Slip Away
This growler was taken live from a few years back. True Texan country blues poor out of this track, you can just hear the freight train pounding on remorselessly through the heat.

Fighting Caravans- Flavour Of The Month
I had to make a tough decision between a few Fighting Caravans tracks uploaded this month. I chose this live track as I just can’t get the keening, droning vocals out of my head. Takes you into the saloon bar of a dirty bar in the wild west just before someone smashes a bottle.

By The Rivers- If They Don’t Know
Some nice and relaxed easy living skank. The first comment to this track was ‘the world is so BEAUTIFUL’ and I couldn’t agree more. Allow yourself to be lost in the delayed sax, dream of Summer, and chill.

Dj Vadim & Sena- Boneshaker
This track is sick, there’s no other word for it. Even the furniture starts dancing when I play this. No neighbours complain no matter how loud it gets cranked, awesome energetic, horny dub.

Gerg Robots- Gettin’ Foggy With It

Oddly this is the most aggressive of the tracks I recommend this month. A modern day super-mario/Cyriak mash-up- do not listen to right before you go to sleep.

The Kubricks- Skallywags
For the first 20 seconds I swore I had tuned into a rare version of ‘when I’m cleaning windows’. However the hammond kicks in, the syncopated drums start and the offbeat upstroke reveal it for what it really is- a good old fashioned 2 tone ska revival track.

Heidi Brown- When It Snows
This orchestrated folk singer-songwriter track can be downloaded here. I love the combination of banjo and magic wand sound effect. Nonetheless Heidi is a very talented multi-multi instrumentalist (I didn’t hear the accordion the first time) that has here produced a lovely fireside warmer

Hattie Briggs- Turn On The Lights
I’ve been a massive fan of Hattie for a while now. This track is perhaps the most overtly Christmassy of this month and the video is a real tear-jerker. She’s been really busy on a couple of long international tours but has somehow found time to write and record this wonderful song.

Josh Savage- Verres Profonds
Listening to this track will make you feel more cultured. Josh sings with a commendable french accent but the track itself is a real anthemic call to arms. Picture the best scenes from les miserables sung by frightened rabbit.

Nonbeliever- Aurora Jest
Background music to sway to. Very easy to wash up to, talk to a spouse about their day to, or other menial task. At times it drifts into a vaguely uneasy tone but it always brings it back round to let you sway again.

Mick Flaherty- Signifier
This soothing electonica ambience will instantly help you relax and unwind. Delicately layered synths gently float past you. Great music for a hot bath.

Aayushi- Tourists
A lovely little delicate voice defines this track. Aayushi joins the traditions of Ohbijou and the Acorn- painting a haunting vision of a beautiful world with the voice of a rainbow.

Fork and Knife- End Scene
I could barely resist closing my playlist this month with this track. Cinematic, emotional, reflective music, it invites you to muse upon the last year and opens up thoughts of the next.

Glass Ankle- Can’t Help Falling in Love
Unusually my favourite this month is a cover. I’ve followed Glass Ankle for ages and they’ve put their signature ambient, drifting spin on this classic originally by the King. A beautiful song, sung beautifully.

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November

This month I’ve been really spoilt by the amount of great releases. I’ve processed thousands of tracks and whittled it down to my top 25. Check out what made the list below and listen to the full playlist here

Organised Scum- Insane Making Behaviour
I’m writing this on a lazy Sunday, and this track is perfect for lovely lazy Sundays. There’s nothing lazy about the production of this track though, and every time I play it back I notice another little detail that makes me smile.

Drunk Mule- Northside
The lazy Sunday vibe continues with the next track. The laid-back sound conjures images of flat open landscapes, and an eternity to saunter across it.

Memory Flowers- Life is Glorious
A gentle American rock tune here, but with a grounded and heartfelt carpe diem. You won’t be able to get the chorus out your head all week and it practically makes up for the final jaunty phrase on the guitar at the end.

Matthew the Ox- Beyond the Gates
Matthew has been a favourite of mine for a while- and this Cashian (as, like Jonny Cash, not like Kim) American clean picking combined with Country slide picks up his cowboy drawl beautifully.

John Joseph Brill- The Grape and the Grain
To me, this meaningful track sounds like peering through a haze of cigarette smoke up at a cracked ceiling as dawn arrives. Exactly what needs to be played as when you reach the mellow sobriety before you start to come-down.

Sam Wright- Get Lucky
Successful covers don’t just imitate, they show the original in a new light. Sam has made this seem effortless with his wistful and subdued version of the Daft Punk hit that coveys painful disappointment with humanity.

Andrew Howie- Victory
I feel like an intruder listening to this track. The tone is so intimately personal, witnessing it is like being caught in a PDA. There’s something sweet about it nonetheless and I can’t make light of the way his gravelly croon is dusted by her breathless trill.

Snippet- Digital Yes
Fans of Lemon Jelly need look no further. The ambient droning grove is fully supported by a heart-warming sound-bite and is the aural equivalent of sinking into a soft sofa.

Acre-Tarn- Lanterns
Lanterns took me by suprise, it’s a lot heavier and a lot deeper than the introductory (panpipes?) gave away. Her voice is strong enough to carry through the impressive range that beats its way into your skull.

Hayley Cannon- Who Are You?
Similarly just wait for the third minute of Hayley Cannon’s latest recording. Once it strikes up the tempo the intensity cranks up and up leaving you vibrating with amnesia and energy.

Ever- Home
Birdsong as a backing track always scores an extra point. This ditty is full of nothing but twiddly, fiddly twitterings, but in a really great way.

Colony House- Silhouettes
If the Kooks had been a little more Rock & Roll… Best new indie this month with all the vocal hooks, noodly guitar phrases and simplistic rhythm.

CARW- Feathers
Some more dreamy jangly electronic nonsense now. Lovely to sway to in a bubble factory.

UOVO- Love Anthem
This band is new to me but here they’ve somehow managed to combine uneasiness with whimsicality (yes it’s a word). Kind of like looking back on Captain Pugwash.

Fortnight in Florida- Save Our City
Droning ambient hypnotism at it’s finest. Fans of The American Analogue Set please stop here.

Matt Mereport- Are You Left or Right-Handed?
Ghosts swim through this wonderful combination of piano and Erhu. Matt tells us it was recorded in ‘cavernous surroundings.’ Wherever that was- it sounds beautiful.

Mike Vass- A Meditation on Loss
I’ve associated Mike with his earlier ocean-inspired folk. This is (to me) a new tack where he sensitively handles a difficult theme. He does fantastically as this is highly emotional but charged with a real uplifting boost- portraying grief as a strong healing process.

Unquiet Nights- Don’t Wanna Kill for Religion
Few would disagree with the title sentiment, but with recent political events this is a message that perhaps needs reinforcing. Either way these guys take us on a nice droney journey that is full of guitar solos, slick bass and a relentless pounding of drums.

Fins a Luminous- Funeral Shake
Nihilism and dissatisfcation with modern urban life seeps through from this song. It is powerful- do not listen if already feeling emotionally unstable!

Violetic- Treese
Excellent- dark forbidding doomy. The vocals remind me of a pissed of Thom Yorke.

Flowermouth- Grey Facade
I rarely get to showcase some spoken word- and I’m glad to get my chance here. Flowermouth has provided the perfect backdrop to these words.

An Di YI- What Comes Around
Blissfull ambient background jazz. It’s wonderfully easy to loose yourself in the latest creation from this fantastically prolific artist.

Sub Hero-  A Dub for the Lost
Exactly as good as you should expect this to sound 🙂 Enjoy

Ruinz Ason
I love how this contrasts with the previous track. This tongue-in-cheek poke at the industry holds up as a great track in it’s own rights

Yndi Halda- Illuminate my Heart my Darling
This sweeping winter soundscape evokes a frozen delicate panorama, a beautiful crystalline preservation in audio. It is 17 minutes long and this is my only criticism- WHY NOT 18??

 

October

Mom Tudie Ft Island Lights- Through Flames 

I love the grove of this track. I’ve been following Mom Tudie for a while but this is the first that has really gripped me. The smokey sultry vocals, relentlessly laid-back beat and sunbathing horns are just what you need when the night is starting smoulder.

Raving Wild- Kolmanskop

I got into this straight away. The ambient droning hypnotism really strikes a chord. It’s a simple melody that comes back hauntingly, as the chisel like beat scores itself into your skull. Once it stops you can’t stop hearing it.

Passport to Stockholm- Let me Know

It’s about time we had some decent orchestrated pop. The sweeping strings provide a great backdrop to the noodly guitar, and the catchy vocals- top job.

Emilio Pinchi-  Naps

I love the laid back production on this touching singer/songwriter. The touching content matter, gruff voice and sweet xylophone speak of sincerity, in a way that will make you sit and think after the last notes have already faded away.

Wesfinch- Red Goose

This song tells a lovely story and once we get into the second minute there’s a fantastic level of accompaniment. I wonderfully orchestrated folk tune that stirs up deep emotions.

Windmill- How Many Times

The delicate breathy vocals swell and grow as the track progresses. The simplistic strumming combines with this to give it a real wintry feel, giving the illusion of a rosy-cheeked young busker playing outside a John Lewis Christmas display. Lovely.

Paul Taylor- Anomaly Two

This is a quite lovely piano improvisation that seems to gently float out of the speakers. It has a lovely soothing gentle flow, great to put on just before sleep.

Matthew Falloon- Star

In this track Matthew reminds me of Neil Finn from Crowded House. His voice has got just the right level of tenacity and grit to hang the melody on. Wished it could have gone on for longer, top sound for a singer songwriter.

Lewis & Leigh- Please Darlin’

I always get excited when I see a new recording from these guys. The rockabilly vocals are enthusiastically accompanied by horns, and keys  and you can’t help but tap a foot. This song actually makes washing up fun.

Billy Hill and Ramon Goose- Road Rage

This youngster has incredible talent for his age. I always get excited when I see his name in the list of releases. A great tune for a Sunday morning, the fiddle weaves up and down with dexterity and grace. Even better- it’s taken live.

Folded like Fabric- Patiently

The chilled noodly indy vibe of this track puts you in mind of field music, plants and animals etc. Every aspect has a hook yet it’s great to just have on in the background. Great multi-purpose listening music.

Venkman- Andrew, You’re Horizontal Again

I’ve been following Venkman since Magnetic Spires and this is typically great. They’ve reined in the Math rock rhythm section slightly which better matches the style of the vocals whilst retaining the quirky, stop-start nature of the melodies.

Sinnober- Never is a Long Time

Clean sounding americana with pure harmonies. If you can forgive the title (it took me a while) you’ll be reminded of cowboy hats, fast open roads and camp fire evenings. If you haven’t been listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd too much recently then this is perfect.

Black Casino and the Ghost- Veggie Tarantula

This tune is raw, distorted, and anthemic. The sort of tone you’d expect to hear at 03:00 Saturday morning in a Rock club. Warning- don’t listen to this when hungover.

Violectic- Bruiser

This track has a great dark sound that builds up into a wonderfully aggressive sort of hypnotism. The powerful vocals, menacing guitar and unremitting high-hat abuse will be welcome to fans of Thee Silver Mt Zion.

Goes great with

Hawk- Once Told

Hawk come out fighting with this track, an aggressive drone that only lets off to add in more layers of vocals. The Thom York style synth in the breakdown is as unexpected as it is welcome, which only makes the return more biting and more powerful.

Solko- Dog

My favourite this month is a punchy, skanky track. The frequent dub breakdowns only help the adrenaline levels spike higher at the release. Simulatenously soothing, cathartic and groovy. Sounds like a lot of fun live.