Happy new year, pop pickers
As we leave behind the second warmest year on record and plough on into an disgracefully mild January, bask in the reassuring glow of some of the latest electronic noises released for your aural pleasure.
As ever, this month’s round-up is a byzantine cornucopia of music, straddling the myriad genres that you will, might and probably won’t soon be hearing on all good BBC 6Music stations near you.
Brought to you by the Green Wedge team of Silvia Rucchin (SR), Skye Corewijn (SC), Blandine Demailly (BD) and Matt Hanley (MH), and with an extended Brucie Bonus section at the end, here’s January’s music of the month. Enjoy.
Come December, Christmas songs are obviously impossible to avoid: radio stations, television channels and shops alike start playing the tacky “Christmas classics” on repeat. If over the years you’ve developed quite an allergy to Mariah Carey or George Michael, Lazy Heart Parade are here to reconcile you with the jingles of bells with their single Christmas In Bed.
Fronted by Liverpudlian Colin Smith and based in East London, six-piece Lazy Heart Parade have the great ability to find the right chemistry between Smith’s voice and that of co-member Louise, creating sweet melodies with a sad twist. Christmas In Bed is along those lines with its lyrics that first sound heart-warming but will undeniably appeal to the more cynical ones out there as well. Christmas 2012 number 1.(BD)
2. ESP – Hooded Fang
Yes, yes, yes. From the very first notes, ESP will make you shake those hips if you like a good 1960s-inspired song that feels as though you’re playing it on the record player in your bedroom. Out of the 3:42 minutes of the track, Daniel Lee – the singer/songwriter of the band – only sings during the first half, leaving that second half to do its work and get the insistent tune into your head.
Tosta Mista, the album on which ESP appears, is about Lee’s break-up with girlfriend of five years April Aliermo, who also happens to the band’s bassist: “Love, lust, heartbreak, dramatic shit like that. Melodramatic huh? It’s all kind of tongue in cheek, but very real at the same time,” he says. That ironic detachment is very much present in the song: it sounds as if it’s just effortlessly cool, but you can tell there’s more to it. (BD)
North London based crew come along with quaint instrumentals, fireside melodies and, to be honest, a good old winter warmer. Give me a pint, a pub and Patch & the Giant and I’ll be sitting pretty for hours. Seeing as they’ve only been going full force since August – it’s a jolly good show – they may need a little more spit and polish, but I suppose their rough edges only add to the genuine feel and charm.
If Are You Listening is an honest sign of things to come from this young crew of folk musos, I look forward to seeing more of them. (SC)
Patch & the Giant will be playing regularly at Boogaloo, Highgate.
It’s incredible how much Lady Magika resembles of any old Franz Ferdinand’s song prior their third electronic Tonight. Maybe it’s the infectious bass, the singer’s sexy and subtle voice which is shockingly similar to Alex Kapranos’ one or maybe it’s just because rock-punk-funk – call it however you want- is back to the scene after a couple of years. Lady Magika sounds more like a tribute song to what Franz Ferdinand have created almost eight years ago rather than an original indie rock tune. Which is nothing to be ashamed of as Holy State seem to have learnt that lesson well. (SR)
Elephant is producer and co-songwriter Christian Pinchbeck and singer/songwriter Amelia Rivas. They formed the band in May 2010 and have so far released only one EP named after opening track Assembly.
Assembly is a chilled-out, dreamy pop tune driven by keyboards and Rivas’ nonchalant singing (which may or may not come from her, apparently, French background). Yet despite its lazy hot summer feel, by the end of the song the listener is left with the sensation that there is disappointment in the air, that the sunny music is really there to hide a certain dissatisfaction or melancholia. (BD)
Admittedly, I am not a massive fan of indie pop shoegaze because it makes me feel uncomfortable, sad and thoughtful. However, I have to say this tune is quite sweet, naïve and spectacular I might want to listen to it over and over again. Where Has Everybody Gone seems to come from an extra sensorial atmosphere due to its softness, quietness and coldness on a certain extent. Mozart Parties is a very young boy who perfectly knows how to assemble a refined yet accessible pop, pardon me, indie pop song. (SR)
After recently nominated for Best New Band at the 2011 Artrocker Awards, Mojo Fury serve up this swaggering beast of granite-laced rock and roll. Strewn from the gritty streets of Belfast, El stomps up the street with a concealed switchblade knife in its back pocket, waiting for someone, anyone, to look at it wrong.
Taken from Mojo Fury‘s debut album, Visiting Hours of a Travelling Circus, the comparison with early day Kasabian is hard to avoid, but is unfair (although their album name arrives in similar tempo as Kasabian’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum). El tells the sad tale of the demise of close friend’s relationship, offering fraternal solidarity, brotherly compassion and a kind arm around the jilted man’s shoulder. (MH)
Visiting Hours of a Travelling Circus is out now.
Until (very) recently the French music scene had been far from exciting: tacky radio-friendly tunes or wanna-be rock stars were all we had to offer. But the 21st century has been good to the indie scene, with bands like Hey Hey My My emerging.
Parisians Julien Garnier and Julien Gaulier quote The Beatles and Neil Young as their two main influences. Said influences led them to drop Molière’s tongue for Shakespeare’s as it better suited their needs for a “British” sound. The Next Bar, the band’s latest single, is a fun, light pop song that tries to embody best as it can what inspired it in the first place. (BD)
New album A Sudden Change Of Mood is out now.
My Dreams could very well be a festive anthem: with a muffled voice and upbeat tune that would make you tap your feet, it’s easy to imagine it turning into the classic sing-along song of a small, friendly pub in Cardiff, H. Hawkline’s hometown. Despite its saturated sound, the song has a traditional folk element to it which will please an eclectic audience.
The project of multi-instrumentalist TV and radio presenter Huw Evans, H. Hawkline released his debut album A Cup Of Salt in December 2010 and was chosen in 2011 by fellow Welsh musicians Gruff Rhys and Cate Le Bon – among others – to support them on tour. (BD)
Scottish crew Seed belt out The River with some real verve. The rock genre mash up is tiresome at times, but it is a good foot stomper and I’m a sucker for banjo twangs.
Personally, a little too obvious. Perhaps they should leave sounds reminiscent of The Calling back in 2001 where it belongs. Saving grace? That banjo. (SC)
The debut EP from Seed will be released sometime in 2010.
Clearly influenced by The Beach Boys, Weird Dreams should not refuse a more modern comparison to elegant indie poppers Phoenix. The same classy approach to music which sits perfectly in between pop and rock without being neither of them, track Holding Nails captures your attention if you are keen on dreamy pop revivalism, otherwise it might be mere musical exercise. Overall, it’s not a bad song at all, very simple but not banal. (SR)
Oh My God, Modern Lover is the epitome of the perfect, catchy, brilliant and seductive Friday Night song! Gently sliding between synth pop and soul, Black Cherry’s warm and soulful voice invites first club goers to warm up the dance floor.
Maybe a slightly bit conventional from the lyrical point of view, but that doesn’t matter considering Lady Gaga earned her first wage thanks to the verses “Just Dance/ Gonna be OK…”. Surely, Black Cherry will be a sophisticated choice in more elegant clubs. (SR)
And, finally, now for something (not too) different.
Klara and Johanna Söderberg, aka First Aid Kit, unveil the first fruits of their new album ‘The Lion’s Roar’, due out in the UK in January 2012.
In 2007 the Swedish sisters sent a demo tape of their home-recorded “Tangerine” to a Swedish radio station. The station loved it, and First Aid Kit were signed to Rabid Records, a label co-owned by the Swedish electronic duo The Knife.
If The Lion’s Roar single is anything to go buy, and featuring guest performances from the likes of The Felice Brothers and Conor Oberst, the coming album is going to be a highlight of the year.
The Lion’s Roar album is due out in January 2012. I would get on it, pronto.
They’re touring too (2012):
23 Feb / London, King’s College
24 Feb / Manchester, Academy 3
25 Feb / Dublin, Workman’s Club
27 Feb / Glasgow, King Tut’s
28 Feb / Leeds, The Wardrobe
29 Feb / Bristol, Thekla
This wonderful video about gay marriage manages to wade through the false arguments about defending faith and religion, and all the straw man debates about protecting the sanctity of marriage, and simply reduces the issue to its core: that two people, in love, should be allowed to get married.
This video is from Australia, but is just as relevant in the UK and pretty much the rest of the world. See this article for a fuller picture of the battle for gay marriage in the UK.
And let’s check in with US comedian Lee Camp, this time mouthing off about how the rich, by stealing all of our money, are actually fucking over themselves. Simple argument, really.
And here, in the shadow of the aforementioned second warmest year on record, David Mitchell keeps our minds focussed on the terrifying prospect of climate change.
Given that the overwhelming majority of independent climatologists, meteorologists and climate change scientists all agree that global warming is happening and it is our behaviour causing it, then surely the burden of proof must fall on those climate change denying charlatans. And our man says, ‘Once we’ve proved it’s not happening, that the sceptics were right, all the scientists (including the American Association of Petrolium Geologists) were wrong, and this was a silly fuss about nothing, then great. All aboard the cheap aeroplanes. But for now, get a grip!’
And on that note, comrades, this is Green Wedge signing off. See you next month.