Scotland has produced some incredibly talented indie bands over the past few years, with Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad releasing influential albums and bands like We Were Promised Jetpacks and Admiral Fallow experiencing relative success at home and across the Atlantic. That’s without going into the incredibly talented Meursault, Withered Hand, The Savings and Loan etc etc….
Edinburgh’s Shooting Stansfield look to be the next act to join this list. Their new EP, We Know Not What We Do, features six melodic tracks driven by guitars and with focused songwriting. Without wanting to pigeonhole them, they come across as a blend of all the bands mentioned above. The opener, ‘Blue Turns Black’, could be straight off a Frightened Rabbit record, whereas the single ‘Greater or Lesser’ (which is available as a free download in exchange for your email address) is much more of a folk song, with the finger-clicking, guitar strumming sound associated with Admiral Fallow.
This is far from a bad thing. Each of the six tracks tries out a slightly different style and tempo, providing some interesting changes of pace and keeping things interesting. Maybe the band are still figuring out exactly which direction they are going to take, but that does not mean that these songs do not stand up to the test now.
My favourite track, ‘There Are No Greater Truths’, is a slow burning song with some of the strongest writing on the EP. The song gradually becomes more immediate, with drums reminiscent of The National supporting the increasingly earnest lyrics. You get the impression that the narrator is getting more confidence in his message as the song progresses, with a quiet and unsure start developing into a louder conclusion where the lyrics and delivery are impassioned.
One of the lines stuck in my mind, an idea which I think runs through a lot of writing on the human condition (for lack of a more every day description).
‘If hollow is not a normal thing then I need filling in // If emptiness comes from within, then we are struggling.’
Upon further listens you discover that there are clever lines like this throughout the record. Meaningful, purposeful words behind the catchy tunes. I think this EP will reward repeated listens as these nuances come to the fore, and I strongly suggest you keep an eye on this band for the future.
The EP will be available for purchase from the 7th of June.
Portland’s Typhoon have unveiled the first single from their forthcoming album White Lighter. I think it’s fair to say that ‘Dreams of Cannibalism’ is a continuation of form for the band, with the familar group vocals supporting Kyle Morton’s lyrics which concern big themes such as family and mortality. It is available now as a free download.
White Lighter is due to be released at the end of August on Roll Call Records. Check out the trailer for the album below. I am looking forward to this one.
We are pleased to present our eighth volume of the Covers Mix series. Hopefully there is something for everyone here.
1. I’m Going Down (Bruce Springsteen Cover) - Vampire Weekend
2. Weird Sisters (Sparklehorse Cover) - LØZNINGER
3. Chiamami Adesso (Paolo Conte Cover) - Julia Holter
4. When Rosa Speaks (Pickwick Cover) - Kevin Long
5. Woody (Hayden Cover) - Winter Makes Sailors
6. Cheers (Blake Mills Cover) - Floating Action
7. The Park (Feist Cover) - Anna Scouten
8. Momma You’ve Been On My Mind (Bob Dylan) - Matthew Ryan
9. Reason To Believe (Tim Hardin Cover) - Horse Feathers
10. You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon Cover) - Colossal Gospel
11. Kiss Me (Sixpence None The Richer Cover) - Mikal Cronin
12. Holocene (Bon Iver) - Rounak Maiti
13. One Day At a Time (Willie Nelson Cover) - Pure X
14. Back Home Again (John Denver Cover) - Low
15. Ultraviolence (New Order Cover) - Seekae
16. The Eagle And The Hawk (John Denver Cover) - Bonnie “Prince” Billy
17. Asa (Bry Webb Cover) - Denison Witmer
18. Rust or Gold (Jill Andrews Cover) - Jeremy Squires
19. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel Cover) - Clem Snide
20. Thinking About You (Radiohead Cover) - Hezekiah Jones
21. Surrender (Cheap Trick Cover) - Frightened Rabbit
22. The River (Bruce Springsteen Cover) - Josh Ritter
You know the drill, please support these artists. Go and buy some records, see a show, get a t-shirt, anything to enable them to keep making music.
Malmö’s Alice Boman recorded a few tracks at home, ideas that were going through her head, potential songs that maybe she could work on and develop. The result was Skisser, a collection of five songs, three of which remain unnamed.
Skisser (that’s Swedish for ‘Sketches) is to be released by Adrian Recordings on the 22nd May. These are pop songs that use slightly fuzzy guitars and gentle piano alongside crystal clear vocals to produce something that sounds, for lack of a better word (and in an entirely positive sense), old fashioned.
The track below, ‘Waiting’, is the leading track and gives you a good idea of what Alice is aiming for. The label releasing the EP describe it as ‘Billie Holiday for the 2010s, without the jazz’. I’d say it’s Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’ without the production and hype. It’s a gentle and fragile and personal, yet also confident and assured. For a home recording, this is exceptionally well done. In an alternate reality this is the summer radio hit.
A second EP is in the pipeline, this time in a studio with members of labelmates This Is Head providing backup. Whether Boman would prefer to elaborate on these ‘sketches’ in her future work remains to be seen. Going on the results here, I find myself hoping not.
A New Start by french artist Løzninger is the latest release from the good folks over at mini50 records. The seven track album consists of songs produced during the same period as those on 2011’s Moving Targets, and therefore (rather paradoxically, given the album’s title) represents the end of a chapter in Løzninger’s music. Of course, we are also seeing a collection of songs that have been honed and perfected over a number of years.
The music defies simple description, although artists such as Sparklehorse, Vic Chesnutt and dEUS have all been mentioned in comparison. If you are a fan of any of these artists, of experimental, lo-fi music in general, or of any of the other mini50 records artists I have featured previously (such as the aforementioned Old Earth or Hiva Oa) then I highly suggest you give A New Start a shot. A video has been made for the title track, which you can check out below:
Similar to their recent Old Earth release, mini50 records are currently offering pre-orders of the album in a number of packages, from a simple CD to a bumper package that contains a CD, bonus EP, tote bag and artwork by Benjamin Løzninger himself. The proceeds of the pre-orders are required to make the album a reality, so be generous. Pre-orders can be placed here. If you do want to get the record, then I would hurry up, as only 100 copies are being produced.
The track lurches around like the hideous product of some genetic experiment gone wrong, staggering the halls, alive and angry and relishing it’s weirdness.
The album can be pre-ordered now from Bandcamp, either digitally or on a USB stick encased in a ball of mozzarella (for the bargain price of $100). As the band explain:
“Until we get or someone gives us the money to release this album on vinyl, it will be available on USB drive embedded in a ball of mozzarella cheese. We will personally embed the USB and overnight the cheese packed in ice, though we CANNOT say that the cheese will be edible upon receipt. Everybody has an opinion about the best format for music these days; this is ours”
The mozzarella is limited to 1,000,000 so make sure you are quick. You don’t want to be one of those losers who missed the cheese.
Colorado based songwriter Nathan Amundson, better known as Rivulets, is in the process of recording a new album. To finance this new record, Nathan is asking for a little help. Rather than set up a Kickstarter campaign or something similar, he is asking that you buy the previous releases on Bandcamp. This way, not only do you actually get something for your money immediately, but also all of the money goes straight to the artist rather than filtering through like on iTunes and those sites.
If you are unfamiliar with Rivulets then I strongly urge you to get acquainted. Dark, sparse folk music that has something to say and isn’t adverse to getting loud when required. I’ve embedded a few of my favourite tracks throughout the post for you to sample.
Also, if you send $20 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, Nathan will record a personal solo song at home and send it directly to you. This can either be a new song that he will write just for you or solo version of your favorite Rivulets song. Just leave a message in the Paypal comments box outlining your wishes.
The method of paying on Bandcamp means you can give more that the RRP so if you find yourself with some extra coins then I’m sure it would be appreciated if you could give a little more. Remember, it’s paying for a new album. Rivulets is one of those criminally underrated acts that deserve far greater recognition. Why not use this opportunity to explore the back catalogue while funding a brand new album?
It turns out that the best thing about rules is breaking them. This month’s Head In The Clouds sees me break pretty much the only rule I’ve laid down so far: thou shalt not feature an artist more than once. I hope that you’ll have a listen, and forgive and absolve me for my indiscretions.
First up is You + Me by Real. Featuring a skittery beat, spliced vocals and some lovely stabby synths from about 1:00 onwards, it’s almost the definition of a summer jam.
Next up we have a calming remix from Koreless. He’s taken Late Night, already something of a relaxed number from Foals’ Holy Fire album. Koreless approaches this remix in much the same way he approached his remix of Cold Nites. Rather than forcing square pegs into round holes, he plucks the highlights out of the original and rearranges them in a way that makes you wonder why this song didn’t just sound like this in the first place.
We’ve posted about Airhead before (here) and featured him on one of our many mixtapes (here). It’s fair to say we’re excited about his first full length, For Years, which is set for release in June. Autumn is the first of the new releases to reach our ears. Centred around a looping acoustic guitar, it’s pensive rather than pounding. It’ll be interesting to see how Airhead blends his two musical personalities over a full length release and we can’t wait to hear more.
Next up is our rule breaker. I could copy and paste almost everything I wrote regarding Kodak to Graph’s Departure and post it here in relation to Aurescent, his latest monthly release. A commenter on soundcloud summed the entire track up perfectly with the statement “Sounds like a happy day.” They’re spot on, Aurescent is disarmingly positive.
Our final offering this month is Raffertie’s remix of Benediction, originally by Hot Natured. It’s an inventive take, turning the track into something of a smooth, slow burner. Of course, it’s been released (and put up for free download) to help promote his forthcoming LP, Build Me Up, to be released later this month, so watch out for any glimpses of that too.
That’s your lot for this month. Check back in a month for more.
Mark Timmins is a songwriter and artist from Nuremberg, Germany. His self-released EP, Six Songs, is an darkly intimate collection of folk songs that uses a simple and direct method of delivery to achieve something raw and honest. Timmins uses only a guitar and his voice with no trickery or production, and the result is something that sounds almost like a live session, with all the character and force that only organic music can possess.
The songwriting and style is very personal, the sound capturing an unsettling mixture of anger, sadness, frustration and hope that make the whole thing seem like a late night lament. Rather than telling full stories (as the recently featured Doug MacNearney does, for example), Timmins’ words instead come off as a stream of consciousness, a man alone and thinking, spilling words that he wishes he could share with those that need to hear them.
You can listen to the EP on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, and keep up with his musical and artistic progress on Tumblr. There are some lovely looking handmade EPs (see below) availble for the very reasonable price of €4 via Bandcamp so have a look at those.
Land Of Pines apparently began life as a two-piece with only a car battery to power their music-making equipment. They are now a fully fledged indie rock band with a luscious sound comprising of guitars, a well-developed rhythm section and energetic male-female vocals.
Their new EP, The Long Defeat, due out on 21st May, is pop music from the indie rock world; simultaneously playful and serious, this is catchy and passionate music that would be equally enjoyable heard alone through headphones as in a packed gig. The opening track ‘Scotch Broom’ begins with ominously heavy guitars, reminiscent of Manchester Orchestra, before skipping into life and becoming something along the lines of Todd Goldstein’s ARMS meets the Foo Fighters. Across the five tracks the vocals trade back and forth between male and female, adding a nice variety with proceedings while still allowing the band’s style and sound to remain evident. It’s not always easy to maintain a cohesive sound when swapping between vocalists on a short release but here it sounds natural, they have pulled off with expertise.
The EP was recorded by Martin Feveyear who has worked with acts like Kings of Leon and Girls (not to mention blog favourite Damien Jurado), so Land Of Pines are certainly aiming high. I think it’s fair to let these guys finish college before expecting too much, but this EP is certainly strong and bodes well for things to come.
You can pre-order The Long Defeat from the good folks over at Fin Records, on beautiful blue-and-bone splatter vinyl. The release is limited to 500 so get in quick before the May 21st release date. On the note of releases, if you find yourself in Seattle at the beginning of May then get tickets for the release show at The Vera Project on May 4th.