Hello, yes, I am still here!
Happy 2020!!! Before we leave 2019 behind here is a mammoth music round-up with releases from October, November and December last year. Various things got in the way of me uploading but I didn’t want to leave so many brilliant releases untouched.
Nine singles, three EPs and an album make up this post and they are all brilliant in their own way. Many genres of music included in this post and I guarantee that there is something for everyone so please have a read and more importantly, have a listen.
“The Masquerade” (Single) by Himalayas
Indie rock band Himalayas have finally released another single and it is a good one. “The Masquerade” definitely has a different sound to their previous material in my opinion but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Cardiff band’s sound has matured and although continues to have that urgent, excitable rock sound that fans love it is quite different to their biggest hit, “Thank God I’m Not You”.
The track sounds heavily produced with the vocals almost being masked themselves being coated with effects. This really adds to the song. That and the angry bass line – I welcome the new Himalayas with open arms.
One thing I discovered whilst writing this is that this awesome band are somehow unsigned?! Someone needs to get on it! It was a shocking revelation, I just assumed that a label had snapped them up by now. They have brilliant tunes and their stage presence is incredible. Someone. Get. On. It.
“Breathe In” (Single) by The Tin Pigeons
Indie pop duo Tin Pigeons have released another dancing tune called “Breathe In”. Despite its upbeat grooves and funky bassline the actual thought behind the song is quite emotional. It is a song which deals with the issues of mental health something which many – including myself – can relate to.
The track has a strong message of hope which matches up with the groovy beats well. The combination of synths and bass guitar work together in a sort of intoxicating manner. Guided beautifully by the vocals it really is another stunning piece of work by the East Midlands pair.
“Stuck” (Single) by FLARES
With their fifth and final single of the year it really has been a busy one for Birmingham band FLARES. I’ve seen and heard the quartet absolutely smash it on numerous occasions and I think it is fair to say that they are becoming a favourite of mine.
Latest single, “Stuck” begins with a long, forty-five second intro full of riffs and smashing drums before the vocals eventually chime in. The lyrics flow well and match up to the musical track – it definitely has a grungy feel.
“Damaged” (Single) by Never Apart
New alt-rock band Never Apart have kickstarted what I hope to be a fantastic success with their killer debut single, “Damaged”. The female fronted rock band from Coventry have started again and have put to bed their old face, Operation Guillotine, and are ready to tear things up.
Putting aside the smashing drums and edgy guitar riffs, the lyrics feel so true as they draw upon personal experience that singer, Al Clarke has experienced only too recently. The band played their debut show a couple of months ago and are planning a jam-packed 2020 and I cannot wait to check them out live.
“Look At Me Now” (Single) by Highlite
“Look At Me Now” is the latest stunning single by Birmingham indie band Highlite. The band fuse pop and rock together in general but I got country vibes from the opening of this track with the use of acoustic guitar and the vocal style. It is a track which is made for radio in my opinion, sounds like something that could chart if they had the following.
I witnessed the brilliance of this band live last year but since then four have become three, however they seem to be coping with that brilliantly. I like what they do. I think they are very musically talented.
“Honest Man” (Single) by Saytr Play
A vast contrast to their previous single “Second Hand Emotion” this track by the Manchester band is a little bit more from the heart and fuelled by love. Perhaps a little soppy but it is a song from the frontman to his partner it seems which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just wasn’t what I was expected after their previous killer release.
They are a band who have made me intrigued about what they offer. I have yet to have seen them live as they are not from around here but I have heard fantastic things about their live performances making me eager to see it for myself. I hope these guys make it to my neck of the woods soon.
“Ride With Me” (Single) by The Wholls
I saw rock band The Wholls smash it on stage in August 2017 and ever since have loved their tunes. They were definitely overdue releasing some new material so I was extremely excited by the release of “Ride With Me”.
Good vocals, steady drums and riffs. The track hasn’t got the same sort of punch as some of their previous material, it seems cautious, but I think it shows the band going in a slightly different direction. Either way, I hope this marks a brilliant return from a very promising band.
“Wash Away The Wild” (Single) by KAWALA
I witnessed the brilliance of this band back in May in Leeds and although it was a set I attended by accident it was really good fun and got me dancing. Recently, I heard their BBC Live Lounge set also accidentally in an Uber on the way home from seeing Liam Gallagher. This indie band have a special pull through the use of afrobeats they are offering something special.
Their latest single, “Wash Away The Wild” follows that trend. They’ve come up with this magical musical formula so why change it? They are not only blessed with individuality but also with two awesome vocalists whose tones and capabilities compliment each other incredibly well. These guys are definitely ones to watch.
“Hertz” (Single) by parade
Having been blown away by their debut single, “Colours” back in September I was excited for the next release by Coventry quintet parade. “Hertz” follows the style they’ve created for themselves by managing to balance the use of synths incredibly well which can be a difficult task. Not for this band.
The single is bold and another advert for their songwriting talents by raising the bar once again. Since their debut release, I have seen the band live and they carry so much energy – it is almost a completely different experience to hearing them recorded. I very much recommend them.
“Eastcote” (EP) by Sam Johnson
Singer-songwriter Sam Johnson released his debut EP “Eastcote” and it has been a long time coming. I have seen Sam live four times now and each time was transported to a calm, beautiful place by his heavenly vocals and talented musical ability.
The opening track, “Lost In The Mail” is a grand beginning with a chorus of “la la la’s” pulling you in. As a song, I would describe it as musically complex with many different layers and instruments all netting together creating a masterpiece. His vocals are powerful and setting himself a place in the competitive musical landscape.
The second track is, “Medicine For My Brain” which is my favourite of his released catalogue (and until the last time I saw him perform, my favourite of his overall, there is exciting stuff on the horizon). I talk about this single more in my July edition but in brief, it has a strong beat that will get your foot tapping and those captivating vocals which make him incredibly unique.
“Stuck Under The Service” is a calmer track fuelled by a sort of haunting vulnerability and a message of future optimism. He sings about something which many of us has been through but in a beautiful way. Closing track, “Trip On Gold” is perfectly crafted with enthralling vocals and a catchy underlying beat. I talk about it more in my August edition.
An additional bonus on the brilliant EP is acoustic versions of “Medicine For My Brain” and “Trip On Gold” giving the listener a little something more.
Sam has a headline show in London on January 15th – definitely worth popping along to.
“Interlude For The Borderline Unsettled” (EP) by Calva Louise
Anyone who knows me, knows how much love I have for Calva Louise. Their music has aided me through some tough times and their shows are a guaranteed good time – I can say that, having seen them four times now.
One of the highlights of 2019 for me was the release of their debut album “Rhinoceros” back in February and then they rounded off the year releasing more new material in the form of an out of this world EP, “Interlude For The Borderline Unsettled”.
The EP is made up of three killer new tracks, one of which is “Belicoso” which I reviewed back in August, and an awesome Strange Bones remix of said track. All of the tracks bring something different to this special EP but one thing is for certain, the band are going in a new, mad direction and I am mad for it.
The sound throughout the record is quite futuristic, which can be heard in particular on “Sleeper”, very grunge-y with a South American edge thanks to singer-songwriter Jess’s heritage. Some of the lyrics being in Spanish – which can be heard on “Belicoso” and “Adelante” also gives their material something special.
I have a physical copy of this EP on vinyl and I think it is fair to say that it is my go to record to spin at the moment. You should definitely check them out too.
“No Messiah” (EP) by Skinny Living
Trio Skinny Living have rounded off a successful year by releasing a new EP, “No Messiah”. I have witnessed the brilliance of this band twice last year and on both occasions been blown away by their very obvious talent. It is great to see them doing well.
Opening track, “No Messiah”, is extremely powerful and immediately draws the listener in with stunning vocals with meaningful lyrics. Frontman Ryan Johnston carries the track with so much soul and he really is a talent in his own right.
Carrying on the beautiful tunes to “Sleepwalking” which is much more musically simple but that is not a bad thing. The piano, a little guitar and vocals are enough for this song to fly.
“My Blood” is probably one of my most listened to tracks last year. Both times I saw them live this track had been my favourite and when they eventually released it I was very pleased. I talk about it more in my July edition. Closing track, “Let Go” is a little more upbeat with a steady drum beat and percussion bringing it to life. It is a great way to close the EP.
I love how honest this band are about the difficulties of the music industry – in 2019 they lost a member who let it all go because he couldn’t cope with the unpredictability of being in a band. However, the rest of them have taken it in their stride and have continued to perform and release new material.
“Jake Fletcher” (Album) by Jake Fletcher
Closing this post is the self-titled album by Jake Fletcher. This talented musician has been seen in Manchester bands, Gramatones and Cupids as well as touring with artists such as The Specials and Steve Cradock – although I saw him playing bass for Nick J.D. Hodgson.
The multi-instrumentalist released his debut solo single “Power Never Changes” back in March under name Coby Fletcher which I talked about in my March edition. Since then, he has gone back to Jake and worked extremely hard on what I can describe as a fantastic debut album.
Throughout the indie-rock record there are different themes, a fair few political tracks where he obviously has stuff to say and get off his chest such as in “No One Talks” but others just discuss what it is like living in a modern world like in “P45”. I listened to the album from start to finish and enjoyed exploring the different themes making it a very rounded listening experience.
The nine track long album has range of musical styles but it is quintessentially indie rock with a few more stripped back tracks such as “Fairwelfare System” and “Cover in a Storm”.
Jake is an obvious talent and although this is just the start I hope more people pick up on his musical prowess and listen to his tunes. His vocal style is something in particular I dig. I for one will be listening and hopefully seeing him performs some of these bangers in the flesh one day.
So here you have it! Finally…
There are some great new tunes here and I wide range of music types so I truly believe that if you’re reading this you will find something that you love. I certainly have. Give them all a listen and I will see you soon.
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