Posts Tagged ‘UK’

What a Boost artwork

For all the upward motion suggested by its title, What a Boost basks in a cozy kind of groundedness. The subtle, psychedelic folk on Rozi Plain’s fourth album is as soothing and reliable as a mug of milky tea; these songs don’t rise and fall as much as they simply steep. The British singer-songwriter refined the record over the course of a year on the road, and it bears the marks of an itinerant existence: Worn grooves stretch on like the white lines of a highway, circular guitar figures convey a dutiful sense of routine, and Plain’s fragmented lyrics meander like backseat daydreams. On the hovering ”Conditions,” she sounds a bit like Charlotte Gainsbourg fronting the Beta Band as she sings “Is this the way for love?” with the nonchalance of a traveler asking for directions.

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Tweaked and refined during a year spent touring the world playing bass in This Is The Kit, ‘What A Boost’ nurtures its homely roots and then blooms into a record that isn’t strictly about life on road but is undoubtedly, and beautifully, shaped by it. Textural, repetitive, propulsive, the whole piece plays out like a soundtrack to the world flying past the window; all of the shapes, colours, sights and sounds, flickering fast as we try to take as much of it in as we can. 

The music of Rozi Plain has always felt like a freeze-frame. A colourful and graceful snapshot of the world, paused, suspended in time, and then gently toyed with, like stepping out of the linear world as we know it.

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Introducing Art School Girlfriend – the most recent signing to Paul Epworth’s record label, Wolf Tone,

Diving is about desire and anxiety in equal measure,” explains Art School Girlfriend (AKA Polly Mackey). Written during a shift in Mackey’s personal life, the lyrics muse on the anticipation of new possibilities in her relationship. Grounded in quintessential Art School Girlfriend production elements – cavernous space, swathes of reverb and great rushes of air – Mackey’s vocal is centered in the ebb and flow.

‘Diving’ is the second side to Mackey’s most recent single ‘Come Back To Me’. Both tracks will be available soon on a double-A 7” vinyl.

Released June 12th, 2019

The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies – but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric.

The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” – such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

On Modern Nature’s debut album, How to Live, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents. Throughout this continuous work, where no song ever really seems to end, there’s an indelible feeling of constant forward motion. It’s as if the band is laying down a railway and riding it simultaneously, and you can hear all kinds of landscapes passing by.

The endless feel of How to Live was inspired by Cooper’s experience making his 2017 solo album Sandgrown. It was the first time he made a record with a defined theme – a suite of songs about his hometown of Blackpool – and imposing a narrative framework turned out to be refreshingly liberating. “When I started thinking about a new project,” he recalls, “going back to making an album of unconnected songs seemed as strange as making a movie with completely unconnected scenes.”

As he began writing songs, Cooper was also tuning to the vibes of Earth Loop, an instrumental solo album by BEAK>’s Will Young (under the name Moon Gangs). For a long time, Cooper had hoped to work more with Young, who almost joined his first band, Mazes, and was in the touring version of his next group, Ultimate Painting. So he decided now was finally the time, as he puts it, “to make good on hundreds of late night ‘we should really do music together’ conversations.”

“Over the next few weeks I started sending Will songs, and we began meeting up, working on ideas and formulating the bigger picture as it were,” Cooper recalls. “Approaching the album as a film or play made complete sense, and from that came the idea to have a very defined narrative, reoccurring themes and chord progressions, field recordings and a set palette of instruments and sounds. Each song came with pages and pages of notes, musical references, films, books, places, words and feelings.”

Cooper is hesitant to explain too much about How To Live’s story, preferring to let the listener to find his or her own narrative to fit what they hear. But he can offer some guideposts. “Broadly speaking, the album moves from an urban environment at the beginning to an escape at the end…whether that’s solitude or acceptance or isolation,” he says. “At the beginning the songs reflect a different type of isolation, the sort of isolation or disassociation one can only feel in a very crowded, hectic environment.”

The vibrations of these environments come across immediately on How To Live. The album’s first line is “There’s a hum in the street,” and the rest of the hypnotic “Footsteps” masterfully paints a picture: “the click repeats, repeats, repeats”….”Isolation, repetition, spark burst fission”…”turns loops to the point in which they meet.”

Throughout the remainder of the record, ideas recur and sounds return, often forming new shapes. A careful guitar pattern sprouts into the halting “Seance”, which ends with that same guitar pattern flipped into reverse. The beatific “Peradam” revels in the cycles of nature, as Cooper asks to be led “out of spirit worlds, let it whirl, out and in, swirling like fireflies. The pulsing “Nature” takes a darker view of our current environment, calling it “the great failure” and concluding with the imperative to “lock them up and don’t forgive them.”

The richness of the ideas in these songs is matched by the resonance of the music. Cooper and Young’s organic compositions gain skin and muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Nevue (of compatriot outfit Woods), and the expressive saxophone of Jeff Tobias, from Brooklyn jazz/rock juggernaut Sunwatchers. Each track on How to Live evolved as these creative forces joined the group, and it shows. The entirety of How To Live courses with both precision and vitality. The band is closely tuned to the core of each piece, but also unafraid to throw themselves into every moment.

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The care that went into How To Live is clear in album notes, which map out impressionistic ideas behind each step – one block describes the song “Nightmare” as “the calm after the storm, nihilism, acceptance!! HOW TO LIVE??” – and include a list of the music and film that inspire Modern Nature. You can hear traces of those influences throughout the album – the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs, the searching melodies of Robert Wyatt, the atmospheric waves of Harmonia.

But ultimately, the music on How to Live speaks for itself. It’s a work of surprising layers and limitless depths, impressing more strongly with each listen. Modern Nature may have been inspired by the line between urban and rural, but with How To Live they’ve gone a step further, and created their own complete world.

releases July 23rd, 2019

Marika Hackman is back with ‘the one’, the second single from her forthcoming third album ‘Any Human Friend’, out 9th August via AMF Records (Loyle Carner) and on Sub Pop in North and South America.

Displaying an unapologetic attitude and a more liberated sound than ever before, ‘the one’ has been co-produced by David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx, Let’s Eat Grandma) and Marika herself. ‘the one’ shows why Marika is fast turning herself into one of the most interesting songwriters of her time. Layered synthesisers make this the album’s most unexpected musical turn, alongside Marika’s signature new wave guitar fretwork and Blondie style delivery, she’s never sounded as widescreen.

The first song written for forthcoming album Any Human Friend, ‘the one’ is “probably the poppiest song I’ve ever written” she says. “I loved the idea of inhabiting this ridiculous arrogant rock star character who has totally fucked their career by writing too many sad songs.” To that end, it features a riot grrrl Greek chorus hurling such insults at her as “You’re such an attention whore!”

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Marika is a ‘Rid of Me’-era PJ Harvey for the inclusive generation: unbounded by musical genre, a preternatural lyricist and tunesmith who isn’t afraid to go there. Hackman’s 2015 debut, ‘We Slept at Last’, was heralded for being nuanced and atmospheric. She really found her footing with her last release, ‘I’m Not Your Man’, and its exceptional, swaggering international hit ‘Boyfriend’, which boasts of seducing away a straight guy’s girlfriend.

Having recently teased new music at the BBC 6 Music festival, The Great Escape, All Points East, and Field Day, Marika is gearing up for an exciting year of touring. Keep an eye on this one!

Diving is about desire and anxiety in equal measure,” explains Art School Girlfriend (AKA Polly Mackey). Written during a shift in Mackey’s personal life, the lyrics muse on the anticipation of new possibilities in her relationship. Grounded in quintessential Art School Girlfriend production elements – cavernous space, swathes of reverb and great rushes of air – Mackey’s vocal is centered in the ebb and flow.

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‘Diving’ is the second side to Mackey’s most recent single ‘Come Back To Me’. Both tracks will be available soon on a double-A 7” vinyl.

released June 12th, 2019

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The Newcastle based French punk-pop duo the Noise & the Naive were formed in 2017.A six-track blast of glorious, wilful discordant noise from The Noise & The Naïve, two piece who describe themselves as “power pop”,
With acknowledged influences that include Shonen Knife, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The White Stripes, Anne (drums, lead vocals) and Pauline (guitar, backing vocals) have forged their own unique take on the Riot grrrl aesthetic and gained a reputation for fire-cracking live sets that has led to gig invitations from events such as Hit The North, Evolution Emerging and Loud Women.

“Damned” with its “porn loving masturbators… sodomites, and lesbians” lyric is never going to gain much radio play, but beneath this is a stripped bare guitar and vocal tirade brimming with barely subdued rage. The Jon Spencer tinged “Mus Muscles” was released in February as a download only and shows the full range of Anne (drums, lead vocals) and Pauline (guitar, backing vocals), as they take a punk-blues riff and mangle it gleefully through Riot grrrl, the ensuing racket is a joy to behold, as is “Eggshell Milkshake” which has elements of mid 80’s Death to Trad Rock, rushing drums, shrieked vocals, its taut yet slack at the same moment, a fizzing ball of energy that precedes “10, 000 Men” with heavy cranked guitar riff, hammering drums, shimmering cymbals, odd breakdowns and switching timescales… this is a strange yet welcome voodoo.
“Abby” sounds like a Nightingales out take that was then put through The Noise & The Naïve mincer, before shouldering in some distorted noise ahead of remembering to jet off on a space rock trip to distant frazzled stars; the real curveball is closer “Seek Solace” which Anne wrote following the suicide of her brother, her anguish is palpable throughout the vocal, matched by tensile guitar slashing; there is both melancholy and welcome danger here.
Band Members
Pauline (guitars) and Anne (drums, vocals)

Conceived over a bucks fizz binge in Birmingham, UK early 2018, Cherry Pickles comes at you like the basement band you always wanted to start. Priscila B brings from Brazil her love of early Tropicalia and the kind of ‘let’s be bad’ attitude that can only come from a land chock full of Catholic guilt. Mimi B brings her love of stripped down, bare essential rhythm. If two drums are good enough for Peggy O’Neill then they should definitely be good enough for you. Together they bonded over a mutual love of 50s malt-shop-pop, 60s minimalist garage, no wave, fuzz and all forms of outsider art. ‘Art damaged’ isn’t a slur, it’s a compliment. Anything lost in translation with this transatlantic duo only doubles the charm.

As a duo, they work perfectly together. Each song is driven by Mimi’s backbeat of tomtom and snare. It’s simple but man it works. Priscilla B has it all. She flirts between english and Portuguese while her simple but effective guitar playing leads the charge.

They may play simplified, striped down, lo-fi garage rock, but believe me there is some magic to be heard here. The musicianship is primitive (apparently Cherry Pickles even play second hand cheap instruments) but it all sounds so natural. Just listen to a song like ‘It Will End in Tears‘ for proof that Cherry Pickles can write a decent tune.

Their debut has the cheeky title ‘Cherry Pickles…Will Harden Your Nipples‘ and depending on your mood, it will quite possibly do just that. This is music for playing spin the bottle, or drinking cans of cherry coke in a treehouse, or go-go dancing with the flash of swirling lights. Hooky, reverb-tremolo pop with Link Wray riffs and stomping beats. This is garage rock done right.

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released April 5th, 2019

Cherry Pickles’ debut LP “Cherry Pickles Will Harden Your Nipples” released on  PNKSLM Recordings

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Available as a limited edition 12″ vinyl featuring cover versions of a number of rain–themed songs by the likes of Eurythmics, Ann Peebles, Scott Walker and The Cure. a collection of covers of songs by some of my favourite artists……. and it’s all about the rain. Scott Walker’s ‘It’s Raining Today,’ which I hope will be a fitting tribute.

In 2017, Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde said this of Moss: “Outrageously talented as she is, I still think her best is yet to come.” Offering full affirmation on both fronts, My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth is a haunting snapshot of an intuitive artist seeking new ways to work without safety nets, a quest spurred forwards by her move to Somerset in 2014. As Moss puts it, “Whilst the tentacles of city started to loosen their grip, I began amassing vocals that I felt cut a stark silhouette, and I didn’t want to share with big drums and distorted guitars. I work on a few projects at a time, and the contrast of having disparate musical worlds to step into makes me feel more satisfied. But with this record, I’d gone way deeper than anything merely gratifying.

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As well as my new EP, this beast came out on Friday. The new UNKLE album, The Road pt2, which I’m super excited to be a part of once again. It’s an epic listen, and some great collaborations. Particularly proud of Sun (The).

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Modern Nature – the name taken from the title of Derek Jarman’s garden diaries – is the new project of Jack Cooper, ex of Ultimate Painting / Mazes and Will Young of Beak featuring Aaron Neveu of Woods and Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias on saxophone. Their debut EP, titled “Nature”, will be released 22nd March 2019.

As Jack Cooper explains: “The EP is based around a song called ‘Nature’ so ‘Supernature’ is a different perspective on the EP’s title track, but taken to another conclusion. It’s our most recent recording and there seems to be some sense in people hearing that first. ‘Nature’ is our take on that propulsive rhythm of A Sailor’s Life-era Fairport Convention but ‘Supernature’ is something else entirely. The band is so new, it’s hard to say who’s in and who isn’t. At the moment it’s myself and Will Young (Beak) with Aaron Neveu on drums (Woods/Herbcraft) Rupert Gillett on cello and then Jeff Tobias on saxophone (Sunwatchers). 

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The band started as a vehicle for a wider project that Will and I spent the year putting together so it feels very exciting to be an actual band now. Every song we record or musician we gain, another door seems to open on a route that’s worth pursuing.”

The debut EP by Modern Nature is available now

Though she’d been writing songs in her head since she was six, and on the guitar since she was 12, it took a long time for Nilüfer Yanya to work up the courage to show anyone her music. “I knew I wanted to sing, but the idea of actually having to do it was really horrifying,” says the 23-year-old. When she was finally persuaded to do so, by a music teacher in West London where she grew up, she says “it was horrible. I loved it”.

At 18, Nilüfer – who is of Turkish-Irish-Bajan heritage – uploaded a few demos to SoundCloud. Though she’s preternaturally shy, her music – which uniquely blends elements of soul and jazz into intimate pop songs with electronic flourishes and a newly expressed grungy guitar sound – isn’t. And it didn’t take long for it to catch people’s attention. She signed with independent New York label ATO, following three EPs on esteemed london indie label Blue Flowers, and earned a place on the BBC Sound of 2018 longlist. She also supported the likes of The xx, Interpol, Broken Social Scene and Mitski on tour.

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Now, Nilüfer is ready to release her debut album, Miss Universe. Though she recorded much of it in the same remote Cornwall studio she used to jam in as a much younger person, it is bigger and more ambitious than anything she has done before. ‘Angels’, with its muted, harmonic riffs, channels ideas “of paranoid thoughts and anxiety” – a theme that runs through the album, not least in its conceptual spoken word interludes which emanate from a fictional health management company WWAY HEALTH TM. “You sign up, and you pay a fee,” explains Nilüfer of the automated messages, which are littered through the album and are narrated by the titular Miss Universe. “They sort out all of your dietary requirements, and then they move onto medication, and then maybe you can get a better organ or something… and then suddenly it starts to get a bit weird. You’re giving them more of you and to what end?”

Releases March 22nd, 2019
Nilüfer Yanya - Miss Universe