Arrange – New Memory [Listen]

The end of summer melancholy has started to descend upon my music library, and my current favourite is called Arrange. His slow synthy beats overlayed with shoegazy vocals summons a sound that’s best enjoyed loud and alone.

New Memory is Malcom Lacey’s latest album, after a handful of releases in the past two years. His songwriting carries an ongoing theme of loss and heartache which stem from an unfortunate abusive childhood. Despite this, the album consist of wonderful moments of uplifting instrumentals that keep your head turned in a positive direction . The ambient hum that compliments his tracks throughout will no doubt hinder understanding the spoken words during the first listen, but this results in you wanting to hit repeat and take it in again.

His music resembles artists such as Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon, with electronic harmonies that echo the work of composers like Eluvium. The album is an enjoyable melancholic experience, but as Paul Lester from the Guardian puts it; “Not for the faint-hearted, but perfect for the heartbroken”.

Here’s the track Caves from New Memory which was released this year in July.

Trevor Menear – Some Kind of Sunshine [Review]

My latest bandcamp find (damn I love that site) is Chicago based Trevor Menear whose blues filled slices of soul have relentlessly been rocking my soundsystem all evening.

Some Kind of Sunshine was self-released back in 2010 via bandcamp and follows his 2008 debut Introducing Trevor Menear (Shangri-La Music). Infectiously catchy melodies playfully rub shoulders with raw blues guitar and soul filled vocals to a modern rock backdrop. I’d really like to refrain from comparing Menear to other artists but it’s fairly easy to think the raw blues of The Black Keys circa 2008 meets the soul of Ray LaMontagne with a whole lot more variation and ideas thrown in the mix. It’s surprisingly well produced as well, not to discredit Trevor Menear, however it cleverly blends that fuzzy, rough blues tone that bands such a Radio Moscow and Dan Auerbach chase so intently, with quiet acoustics and superb percussion; never sounding over produced and retaining a very organic sound. Album opener River Blues opens perfectly with style and some flowing licks, it’s exciting stuff and builds into a burning guitar solo that sounds thoroughly effortless.

After reading comparisons with Hendrix, and Duane Allman, Menears skills behind a guitar may have a lot to live up to but what really impresses is his restraint on this album. Solos never outstay their welcome, they are written to enhance the song and not purely to show off, something that can and should be greatly admired in songwriters who know their way around their instrument. It’s intelligent writing and only enforces the surprise that this young, talented musician who is not only a brilliant guitarist but proves he’s also an excellent song writer has not been snapped up by a major label already, especially after the recent explosion of The Black Keys into the mainstream of popular music.

Whatever way you look at Some Kind of Sunshine, it is undeniable that it’s a brilliant pop record as well as a superb indie blues record and as a free download (yes it’s free, although we encourage everyone to name a price if they like it and support these artists) it not only deserves to be given a chance but has the potential to spend a long time in my playlist.

Some Kind of Sunshine can be obtained from bandcamp as a name your price download.

trevormenear.com
Trevor on Facebook

Blanck Mass – White Math [Listen]

Blanck Mass, the electronic solo project of  Benjamin John Power, one half of the excellent noise duo Fuck buttons has a new 12” White Math / Polymorph out 21 August 2012.

The 12” released via Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software Recording Company follows last year’s stunning self titled debut LP. The album was an ambient noise masterpiece that evoked otherworldly sounds in its waves and washes of noise.

The new track White Math pushes the sound in a different direction; evoking the sound of 90s analog techno, it tips its hat more to the sound of Orbital rather than the pulsating drone of Fuck Buttons.

Listen to White Math here:

The 12” will be available from the Blanck Mass bandcamp page.

softwarelabel.net

Tom’s ‘recently found & loved’ playlist

I started compiling this playlist for a friend, but then realized I hadn’t posted for some time and so I thought I’d share it here too. What I’ve got here, (besides a couple of tracks) is a mix of new music I’ve found while sifting through blogs and music sites.

TV Girl:

A band from LA, they’re slowly on the rise, give them a year and they’ll touring the states, and hopefully Europe. It’s feel good electronic, indie shoe-gaze goodness. I’ve been enjoying pretty much all their releases.

Tyler Lyle:

This is my favourite track from his album, it’s got a good pace that seems to get more enjoyable as the song progresses. The other songs on his album are worth checking out too.

J:

I dug and found gold with this guy, he’s from Czech Republic even though he sounds very American. I love this track, it’s part of a series from his EP that all seem to be about childhood. His album is free, and it’s very good.

surely i come quickly:

I don’t even know how I found this guy, but his music is really enjoyable. It comes from an album called, you never wanted me. I believe the artist is from Saskatoon, Ca. The low-fi recordings really do add to the atmosphere of his music.

Soko:

This girl is pretty well-known around the blogs, and I believe made an appearance in the charts. She’s got some nice music vids, one directed by Spike Jonze. I love her voice, and even though this is a pretty sad song, It takes you on an ‘enjoyable’ journey I think.

Birds of America:

An American artist from Oakland, described as Dub/Folk. This track is super chilled and builds nicely, it sounds like it was recorded in a barn after a good party. It’s been on repeat for a while on my iPod.

Tom Eddy:

A folk band from Seattle. This track comes from their album called, The Bread Maker’s Blues. I think it’s the plucking and soft vocals that makes this track fun to listen to. Reminds me a bit of Herman Dune’s stuff.

Cass McCombs:

This is a pretty well-known artist in folk scene. He’s from Baltimore and has toured with a bunch of folky/rock artists. This track comes from his 2009 album, Catacombs.

Cotton Jones:

I love duets, XX are a good example, and these guys execute this song so nicely. This is an alternate version of their song, Gone The Bells, which they released on Soundcloud, I actually prefer it to the original. The dreamy guitar and bells sound beaut.

The Oh Hello’s:

These guys have an EP on Bandcamp which you can ‘name your price for’. They’re working on a full length album which looks promising as this song demonstrates a lot of talent. They say they’ve taken a lot inspiration from Mumford and Sons, personally i think they sound better.

Grand Salvo:

He’s known as ‘Australia’s Iron & Wine’, Grand Salvo has a knack of writing original songs about everyday observations. This is a song that triumphs on its simplicity. You might find you won’t take in the lyrics until the 3rd or 4th time since the acoustic instruments glide through your ears so gracefully.

Of Monsters And Men:

Time to pick up the tempo, this is another boy/girl duet. For me this is Edward Sharpe and XX mixed together. Of Monsters and Men is a 6 piece band from Iceland. This track is from their EP that was released in 2011, they’re currently working on bringing out a full album. They’re one to keep an eye on I feel.

Angus Stone:

I first heard of this artist back in 2007 when he released a single called Mango Tree with his half-sister, Julia. Definitely check out the song if you don’t know it. This track comes from his new album, Broken Brights, I hadn’t really been following his solo venture, so this album came to be a nice surprise.

Helios:

One of my all time favourite instrumental/ambient artists. He’s usually playing in my car during long drives through the countryside. literally love everything he produces, and somehow i missed this track from his last album, which resulted in a nice surprise.

Tallest Man on Earth:

Tallest Man on Earth hit the ground running with his 2008 debut album Shallow Grave and has been impressing fans and critiques since. This track comes from his newest album There’s no Leaving Now. It’s my favourite on the album – and no, he’s not putting on a Bob Dylan voice….

To Just Grow Away by Tallest Man on Earth

Alt-j:

I’ve started to spot adverts around London for Alt-J’s debut album An Awesome Wave. They’re a British band and have been gathering a lot of hype with their indie/electronic sound. I’m not gonna say I heard them before they got big because I don’t think I did. They’re playing at End of Road Festival this year which should be a treat.

Blackbird Blackbird:

Another of my favourite artists. I got to see Blackbird Blackbird play this year in the UK which was amazing. This guy constantly puts out great sounding music. This is one of his newest tracks, and it sounds like he’s far from losing his touch – nice one Mikey.

Fortune Howl:

I found this on some blog, it’s a remix of one of the songs from Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a really enjoyable track to listen through.

The Revival Hour – Hold Back [Listen]

Fresh back from a week spent exploring the rainy Cornish coast and I already have a pile of releases mounting on the side of my desk. Before beginning the trawl through the precarious mountain beside me and whilst doing my usual weekly round of bandcamp, I stumbled upon The Revival Hour and their outstanding debut single Hold Back / Run Away.

Hold Back is big in every sense of the word, opening line “I am the lonliest climber of them all” sets a brooding tone which continues through; combined with gospel backing, rising choruses, swelling strings, deep brass, staccato piano, D.M. Stith’s brilliant falsetto voice and finally complimented with some seriously smooth production and this track just begs to be played loud. It’s powerful stuff, full of soul and incredibly intense. Lyrics question and demand, “Am I right to hold back?”, as the song rises and builds into something really quite wonderful. It’s dark, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also crackling with suppressed energy. Bold stuf indeed.

The Revival Hour’s other half is completed by John Mark Lapham (The Earlies, The Late Cord) and with contributions from members of The Earlies, My Brightest Diamond and Shearwater, they are looking like they could become something really quite special. The single was released on 24th October of last year and after digging on facebook it appears the duo are working on release number two, a full length and a forthcoming tour. It couldn’t come soon enough as I can see myself exhausting this song pretty quickly if tonights play count is anything to go by!

Hold Back / Run Away is available to download for $2 (USD) from The Revival Hour’s bandcamp page.

Bandcamp Find of the Week – Pickwick

So I suppose my Bandcamp Find of the Week series should technically be renamed Bandcamp Find of the Season. We’ll gloss over the lack of follow ups since that January article, here’s the latest one. I present to you Pickwick.

There’s scant information across the internet on these guys so this is what I do know; there’s six of them, they’re from Seattle, they have a penchant for vintage gear and they love vinyl (men after my own heart there). But what I can tell you from listening to their debut record Myths, interestingly split into three EP’s and released over a period of months, is that they are a great blend of Soul, R&B and Indie rock with shades of blues and the songwriting skills to boot. It’s raw stuff, don’t expect lavish production here. That’s not to say it’s badly produced however, far from it, there’s perfect clarity and it does nothing but accentuate the bands sound, giving each member’s instrument room to breathe and stand out – there are some infectiously catchy melodies here. Most importantly however, it sounds like the band are having fun and this bleeds into their sound freely at all opportunities. Across the record (or three EP’s depending on how you buy it) Pickwick display great skill in creating meaningful songs full of soul. It’s also worth mentioning the interesting presentation and method of releasing three EPs as a full length. The band clearly have a vision and it’s great to see them experimenting with the way they release their music. Each EP comes with it’s own artwork, all stylistically created to compliment each other, it’s a nice idea well executed.

Have a listen over on the Pickwick bandcamp. Note if you want to grab Myths as a complete piece rather than the three EPs via bandcamp, you can purchase it digitally for $8 (USD) or physically for $10 (USD) on their kungfustore here. Highlights include the superb Hacienda Motel (live version below, well worth the watch!) and The Round.

Tracklisting as follows:

Volume 1
1) Hacienda Motel
2) When Rosa Speaks

Volume 2
1) The Round
2) Staged Names

Volume 3
1) Limelight
2) Blackout

Bandcamp Find of the Week – Question

I spend quite a bit of time on bandcamp trawling through the countless albums and eps picking out the artwork that displays some excellent design or something with a creative name and then checking out the music that follows. It’s a fantastic way to find artists if you’re willing to put the time in and listen to some questionable music along the way. This will be a series of posts for 2012 I’ll be writing most weeks of the year, essentially when something interesting crops up. So, for the first of 52 I present you with this weeks find, Question.

What drew me to Question was actually bandcamps Gallery page which is a selection of artists whose design is worth you looking at essentially. He’s got a superb header on there and nice set of album artworks and that’s reason enough to have a closer look in my book.

So what’s the music like? Well, Question’s bandcamp bio goes like this “This Southern California beatsmith has been spinning hiphop since the early 90’s. His production style is a mixture of obscure jazz samples, heavy beats, and live orchestration. Question’s music can be defined as an interpretation of a timeless era, purely fueled by Jazz & Soul.” and this is exactly what you get, only it’s incredibly well made.

Frankly Speaking by Question

I started with the free downloads of Interludes & Interpretations and Re-Deux before purchasing the full length Standard Translation. All follow the same template, great straight up beats combined with a wide collection of obscure jazz. This plays to it’s benefit and where the music really excels is in this collection of the samples, all interesting and consistant throughout. It’s got the dusty analogue feel down to a tee complimented with warm production and speaking of consistency that’s pretty much where Question is elevated above his peers. His work flows incredibly well and is all of a superb standard, there’s no throwaway tracks or gimicky moments and for this I thoroughly recommend the above collections. There’s no frills here, it’s just straight up, well made, jazzy instrumental hip hop and that’s a good thing. It’ll be in my playlist for a while to come.

Cabbage Row by Question

Head over to Question’s bandcamp page to find a collection of free and purchasable tracks. You can also find him on facebook here and his blog here.