Suntrapp - New Morning/Silhouettes

SUNTRAPP - Silhouettes

Newcastle’s Suntrapp have unveiled more tracks that will be appearing on their forthcoming EP, Yannina. Following on from ‘All the Seas’ (which we featured here)they put out ‘New Morning’ a few weeks ago, and have this week followed it up with ’Silhouettes.’

This might be incredibly lazy, but ‘New Morning’ sounds like a… well… new morning. The bright arrangements and gentle vocals are a positively overflowing with early sunlight, full of the hope that a new day brings, a sense of confidence and optimism and renewal. Seeing as Suntrapp started as a way for vocalist Jake Houlsby’s to respond to/fight against the melancholic ‘greyness’ of his previous musical output, I think it’s fair to say he has achieved his goals.

'Silhouettes' is no less uplifting, although that's not to say this is a twee happy-clappy release. 'As I’ve aged I’ve watched my dreams age too / Some are now too faded to pursue' croons Houlsby, before going into the triumphant refrain:

No more will I curtain call,
No more will I pray,
Every love I’ve known before,
Came as silently as day (dawns).’* 

*(I think, did this by ear)

Silhouettes will be released on the 2nd June. If you find yourself up north at the end of May, there is a release show in Newcastle on the 31st, and there are a few other dates planned too:

Single Launch Party on 31st May 2014
London Folkfest on 8th June 2014
Whickham Fake Festival on 21st June 2014
NARC Magazine’s Boiler Shop Steamer on 7th July 2014

The forthcoming debut EP, Yannina, is a ‘peacefully blooming record imbued with love and vitality, inspired by Neil Young’s emotive narratives and The Beach Boys’ carefree pop but most importantly, the overlooked simplicities of day-to-day life.’ The release date has not been decided as of yet, but we will keep you posted.

Roof Beams - Tectonics

image

Hailing from Washington D.C, Roof Beams make a poppy Americana that is somewhere along the lines of The Avett Brothers and Okkervil River. The band have been around for some time, releasing three albums and two EP since their formation in the early 00s, but Tectonics sees a slight change of tone. Frontman Nathan Robinson wrote this EP at home, during evenings when his wife was at night school and his daughter was asleep, and this gives the record a reflective bent and quieter registers. “Being a dad has impacted how I look at a lot of things,” Robinson said. “Things take on a more positive, universal tone.”

Their name is inspired by J.D Salinger’s book Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters (they were formerly known as Raise Up Roof Beams), and the EP has a literary feel, with a earnest lyrics and a strong storytelling element that remind me of Graham Wright’s solo work. Certain lines stick with you and demand further thought, quite obviously metaphors or references that needs to be figured out. For example, the refrain at the end of ‘Foxholes’:

I’ve been digging,
I’ve been digging,
I’ve been digging foxholes for atheists.

She wrote me a letter
asking how down I could get
digging foxholes.

I wrote her an answer
more than one decision I’d regret
digging foxholes.

This example comes from an aphorism attributed to war correspondent Ernie Pyle, and I’m sure there are many more to explore and read up on. The EP is full of little things like this that unravel with repeated listens, and is well worth your time.

Tectonics is out now, and can be purchased via Bandcamp.

Billy Moon - Young Adult

image

Billy Moon makes music that possesses a carefree sense of freedom, a brazenness, an attitude. It’s loud and messy and sloppy, somewhere along the same lines as Wavves in its garagey, poppy punky-ness.

Billy Moon makes music for summer.

Summer is coming.

Grab the EP, Young Adulthere.

Alphabetical Order Orchestra

The Corrections

Those familiar with Glasgow band My Latest Novel (those who aren’t, you should be) will be pleased to hear that three members are working on a new project called Alphabetical Order Orchestra. The first track from the side-project was unveiled last year (and admittedly passed us by), and saw a lighter, folkier tone when compared with the post-rock arrangements of My Latest Novel.   

A second track has been released, ‘The Corrections’, and I must say it has me excited for where this project goes. The more carefree attitude is still there, but there is also more than a nod to My Latest Novel, with the song treading the line between folk/indie rock and post rock.

The band have set up a Kickstarter project to fund a (currently untitled) four-track EP. There are no wacky expensive options, just pre-orders for the two formats (CD and 12”) that will also get your name printed in the ‘thank you’ section. A CD or 12” for £5/10… you have nothing to lose.

Machine Death - S/T

image

Since discovering antipodean experimental label Wood and Wire a few months ago, I’ve been pouring over their back catalogue looking for something special. While it’s all worth a listen (not least because I can’t help but feel that Australia has been under-represented in the field of avant garde electronic music), I felt like Machine Death’s self styled “new wave sludgecore” warranted a few words. 

As crass as comparisons can be, an obvious point of reference for Machine Death’s sound would be Bristol’s Fuck Buttons; an association with a certain amount of subliminal appeal, given the visceral, machinistic names of both (and the fact that both are duos). However, I can’t help that a more apt comparison would be with Benjamin Powers’ Fuck Buttons side project Blanck Mass. Their sense of scale is certainly similar, but perhaps the best way to describe Machine Death is by opposition; as the Yang to Blanck Mass’ Yin.

Where Powers’ Blanck Mass painted soaring natural landscapes, Machine Death have created a music of combustion; mountains not made of earth, but concrete, steel and bilious, carcinogenic smog. This is not a music of beauty, but horror; of nature swept away by the mechanical, of gas chambers and the desolation of late capitalist society.

If that appeals to your morbid sensibilities, then download Machine Death’s self-titled album over at the Wood and Wire Bandcamp.

Feet On The Ground: Volume 7

image

Here goes volume seven of our monthly folk round-up:

Mira Stolpe - K

First we have Mira Stolpe, a San Francisco-based songwriter, originally from Stockholm. The short bio on the email she sent us said that she is passionate about melodies and melancholy, and listening to her latest track, ‘K’, I’d say that sounds about right. The track is a lesson in focus and minimalism. Sometimes less really can be more. The second part of her bio said that she wants to sound “like a tropical bird in a Swedish forest”, and that’s a very nice analogy too. You can listen to ‘K’ in the player now, and check out Stolpe’s Soundcloud page to hear more.

Ancient Youth - Deer & the Moon

I don’t know much about Ancient Youth other than they are from somewhere in the USA and that they make lovely bedroom-folk music. They released Deer & the Moon a few weeks ago on their Bandcamp page. The EP contains five gentle and pretty folk songs. I promise by the end you’ll feel like the sleepy deer on the record’s cover.

Thom Byles - Lighthouse

Next up is Thom Byles, an English/Mexican artist based in Greenwich. He has recently released a brand new single entitled ‘Lighthouse’. The track is a sedate acoustic number, backed with Byles’s falsetto vocals. There are obvious influences (one most of all, which I won’t do Byles the disservice of name-dropping), but this is quality music in its own right. He also released a three-song EP, Things You’ve Done, back in January, and that’s definitely worth your time too. You can get both releases on a pay-what-you-want basis over on Byles’s Bandcamp page.

Side Saddle - The Postcard EP

Now to perk things up a little. Side Saddle (the recording moniker of New York’s Ian McGuiness) makes poppy alt-folk in the vein of artists such as Cataldo. He has recently released his debut EP, The Postcard EP and I like it very much. It’s catchy and warm and perfect for springtime. 

Luke Elliot Provisions EP

Provisions,the upcoming EP from New York-based musician Luke Elliot, combines strong song writing with gravelly vocals and an unhinged energy that has led to comparisons with Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Nick Cave et al. His sound provides the perfect backdrop for stories of love and loss in a dusty America, proving that the romantic ideas of Americana survive into the Information Age.

Opening track, ‘Benny’s a Bum’, was the title song for Dan and Paul Cantagallo’s film “Benny the Bum,” winner of the Best Local Film at the 2012 award at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. Check out the trailer here.

Khingfisher – Khingfisher

Last but by no means least, we have Vancouver artist Khingfisher. We cottoned on to this solo project from Craig Alan Mechler after a tip from our friend Tyler Butler, and boy are we pleased we did. Mechler, also part of the band Hallow Moon, crafts a delicate brand of folk music which has all that you could want from such a deal. Finger-picked guitars and simple, earnest vocals lead to a stirring and intimate record. There’s even a lovely take on ‘Georgia On My Mind’ included too.

If you missed it, this month also saw the release of a bumper edition of this series’ pretty older sister, Head in the Clouds.

De La Montagne - Make It Happen

image

De La Montagne are a two-piece from France. They make tropical indie pop that will give a touch of continental chic to your summer playlist. They have just released a brand new EP, entitled Make It Happen. Lead singer Camille Bouvot-Duval delivers the lyrics in English but with a rather charming accent, although the lyrics themselves are often not quite so sweet.

The EP comprises of four tracks as well as remixes from King DUODUO, Somepoe and Stoneway. It has a whole load of influences, from indie pop to electronic and dance music. Basically its a lot of fun.

Buy Make It Happen now via De La Montagne’s Bandcamp page.

Strand of Oaks - Goshen ‘97

Listen to the premier of "Goshen ‘97" on NPR’s World Café  from the forthcoming new Strand of Oaks album, Heal.

Way behind on this, but a quick heads up on the new Strand of Oaks track, Goshen ‘97. The sound is far rockier than previous releases (thanks in part to J. Mascis on guitar), but Showalter’s distinctive songwriting and vocals are ever present, making the LP, HEAL, one to look forward to in 2014. 

On the evolution of his style, Showalter said:

I’m inspired by bands that go the distance, to a dangerous place…there’s an uncertainty to ‘HEAL’ that makes me nervous and excited at the same time. It’s sad, but it sounds like a celebration, like I’m crying and laughing and sticking both middle fingers in the air all at the same time.”

HEAL will be released by Dead Oceans on the 24th June, and you can pre-order it here.

Casey J. Cooper - And I Will Rise

And I Will Rise EP

You might know Casey J. Cooper as the frontman of indie band The Receiver, but he is also a composer and solo artist. 

And I Will Rise shows off Cooper’s compositional diversity, combining classical chamber instruments with piano and synthesizers to create a cinematic sound that explores a variety of moods in its modest 22 minute run time. The standout track, ‘Contact’, starts off with a 80s horror-style synths before developing into a atmospheric and cinematic slice of ambient music. The soundtrack-like quality is more than a comparison -  ’Contact’ was used in a short film by Jennifer Reeder entitled And I Will Rise If Only To Hold You Down.

My thoughts on ‘Contact’ also work for the wider release. The use of the piano together with the eerie synths gives the EP a mournful or reflective quality that is always undercut by a bubbling menace, an effect that works superbly well and is reminiscent of Mogwai’s recent Les Revenants soundtrack. Cooper is clearly adept in a number of instrumental areas, and this allows him to capture a number of moods and themes in a relatively short space of time. 

And I Will Rise is out now, and you can buy it on a pay-what-you-can basis here.

Head In The Clouds: Vol 10 (Part 2)

image

Here’s the second part of this month’s Head In The Clouds (check the first out here). It’s something of a catch up to compensate for over three months of inaction. Let’s hope you find something you like …

We’ll kick off with one of two new tracks from Face + Heel (the other, Colonize, can be streamed here). My Medyk sees Face + Heel continue to define their sound and set out their stall, blurring the boundaries between electronic music, dance and pop. Solid drums, soggy synths and simple keys are perfectly blended with serene vocals.

These guys. You often get the feeling with Rustie’s music that he operates in a different world, where the colours are more vibrant and sounds louder. This remix of Machinedrum’s Back Seat Ho is quite simply everything you’d expect from him. It’s, obviously, absolutely ludicrous and far too much fun. 

Last year, Chris Malinchak produced the track of the summer, So Good To Me. It seems as if he may be about to repeat the trick. Forever is the pure definition of summer vibes, as was it’s predecessor. His true skill, however, isn’t in just finding a catchy hook or sample, it’s that his music doesn’t sound stale or repetitive. And you can have it for free!

Black Atlass is back with his new Young Bloods EP. You can stream the whole thing here. My personal highlight is Jewels, the EP closer. It’s a slow paced affair; intense, brooding and unrelentingly smooth, set over the top of scene-setting vinyl crackle. Culminating in distorted bliss around 2:50, it’s pulsating and primal.

A question: Is it sacrilege to touch with a Sufjan Steven’s track? On the grounds of Jaymes Young’s ‘remake’, the answer would appear to be no. A respectful tampering of the original gives Habits of my Heart more drive while maintaining the air of fragility the original. Grab it while it’s free!

2 is 8 is yet another taster of what Lone has to offer. Irresistibly slick yet choppy, it has a certain bounce and swaggy charm. This is undeniable feel good music. Fortunately, there’s so much more to come, with a new album, Reality Testing, in the pipeline for a June release on R&S.

That’s your lot for April, we’re back to the monthly updates now, so check back in May for volume 11!