Thursday, 28 July 2016

New Music: Skott - Wolf

Do you remember a few years ago, pre-Spotify discovery playlists, when blogs were THE place to go for discovering new music? At the time, it seemed like every week there was a new artist blowing up, generating ‘blog-buzz’ and gaining thousands of plays through the Hype Machine charts before the artist crossed over to radio and (sometimes) mainstream success?

These days things are a little different. Blogs are no longer the force they were in terms of discovery, although there’s no doubt they still have a role to play, particularly for exposure of the underground or d-i-y artist who may struggle with the required resource or know how to position their music on key playlists. They can also be useful for providing greater context and information – something Spotify doesn’t do (yet). It’s all very well listening to something on a playlist, but if you want to know more about the act a quick Google search and hitting up some blogs might give you what you need. Also, for some people, music blogs aren’t about discovery at all these days – it’s about enjoying the inner workings of someone else’s mind, getting access to some other music geek's thoughts. Maybe sometimes reading the blog becomes more fun than listening to the music?

But back to ‘blog buzz’. So it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, fair enough. But there is still the odd moment when it feels that blogs come together as one and celebrate a new discovery. A good example this year is the Maggie Rogers song Alaska. It was picked up by over 40 Hype Machine listed blogs in a short space of time. More recently Porcelain the debut track from Scandinavian newcomer Skott was subject to intense praise from over 30 such sites (as I correctly predicted when I wrote about her – suggesting that Porcelain was exactly the sort of song bloggers would love - we're so bloody predictable). Interestingly both of these artists also came with an endorsement from another established popstar (Pharrell for Maggie Rogers and Lorde for Skott), so maybe if you’re a new artist about to release something you might want to give Bjork a ring and get her on board?

Now the second track by Skott arrives and once again the blogosphere is getting excited (and that includes this blog). This one is called Wolf, and continues my (currently very vague) theory that there’s a growing trend for whacking an animal reference into your new pop song somewhere; from Soffi Tukker’s Soft Animals EP to Petite Meller’s videos where the likes of giraffes and flamingos star, to Aurora’s Running With The Wolves to both Casi and Kacy Hill releasing songs called Lion. OK, this is probably the least thought out theory in the history of this blog, but if there’s going to be another 30 odd Hype Machine listed blogs all writing about this song (we’re already at 16 including this one) waxing lyrical about the quality of the music, at least this post adds something different to the mix. Right? 

OK, you want some journalistic words about the song? Well you’ve probably come to the wrong place. But Wolf is certainly better than quite good (there’s a quote the PR people won’t be using on the next press release) but you can make your own judgement on that rather than just trusting my words. I guess I'd describe Wolf as being another one of those pop songs for people that don’t normally like pop music. It certainly throws in all sorts of instrumentation as it goes on. There's some lyrics about being a wolf and howling on your doorstep, which is probably quite annoying in reality. However, I particularly like the line about her haircut being different - I'd never really thought that wolves had haircuts? But maybe I'm not thinking deeply enough about the song.

Wolf is taken from Skott’s forthcoming double-sided 7-inch single released on July 29th via Chess Club in the UK and B3SCI in the U.S (order here in the UK and here in the U.S)

Skott also has the following debut live dates confirmed: 13th September Way Out West, Gothenburg. 28th September Notting Hill Arts Club, London (with Muna), 29th September Birthdays, London (a free gig), 26th October Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris

Skott - Wolf

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

New Music: Anteros - The Beat

Every now and then a song doesn’t so much as sneak up on you and slowly burn its way into your brain, but bounce up with gleeful exuberance, punch you hard in the face and make it feel like one of the most beautiful and exhilarating things you've ever experienced. That is the power of the best pop music. 

Such is the new one from Anteros. It’s called The Beat and frankly it’s a bloody brilliant recipe of indie, pop and even some funky-disco vibes. It has one of those choruses that is more hooky than anything a fisherman could ever have on the end of his line. Massive earworm alert. If this doesn’t get played on the radio there’s something very wrong with our broadcasting services ears. 

In even better news, Anteros are playing a few live dates in September, including for those near to Breaking More Waves, a date at Southampton Joiners. See you for a mad dance-off at that one, if you’re not too cool for school?

Drink this song up. One listen and to paraphrase Kylie Minogue, you can't / won't be able to get this one out of your head.

Anteros - The Beat

Monday, 25 July 2016

New Music: Introducing - BEL

This blog (in part) takes its name by way of a reference to director Lars Von Trier (his film Breaking The Waves) and today I’m introducing a new Australian pop singer with a single who also gives a nod to Von Trier (although probably completely unintentionally) with a song called Melancholia. 

Isabelle Rich, from Melbourne, goes by the stage name of BEL and her debut offering is a cool, slightly heavy, but highly palatable slice of electronic pop. However, amongst its weightiness there’s still the occasional space that allows the song to breathe. It adds to its pop credentials by not wasting any time, clocking in at around three minutes, and most importantly for regular readers of this blog, BEL has already done the pop star in the bath promo pic (here)* It looks like she jumped in the tub in her local bathroom appliance showroom for that one.

The song is officially released on 29th July.

*No idea what the popstar in the bath thing is about? Try clicking here for starters and then a whole raft of posts on this blog since then.

BEL - Melancholia

Sunday, 24 July 2016

New Music: ELEL - Animal (Saint Motel Remix)

This is a bunch of firsts. It’s the first time I’ve featured a remix on the blog in a very long while. It’s also the first appearance of a lead male vocal on a track I've posted in over a month. It’s also the first time I’ve featured an ELEL song on the blog since I introduced them way back in May 2014 with the totally tropical carousel hit kicker of 40 Watt.

The fact that I haven’t written about ELEL in the last two years since introducing them reminds me of something Justin from The Vaccines once said in an interview with The Guardian a few years ago: “If you're being talked about before release and you don't have a record's worth of songs then you've fucking blown it before you've begun. And blogs in particular are to blame for that. Every day they have to post a new band. Are they still listening to the band they posted three weeks ago?” Well actually Justin, the answer to your question is yes. I still listen to your band, even though I haven’t written about you for years. Likewise ELEL. It’s a note of caution to all artists; don’t assume that because bloggers aren’t writing about you they’re not listening. Most music blogs aren’t full time jobs, they’re hobbies fitted around busy lives. That means our greatest limitation is time and we have to be very selective about what we write about. We simply can't cover everything.

And besides, Justin was wrong. There are many examples of acts that have transitioned from a handful of demos written about by blogs to quality albums a couple of years later. For example the likes of Lapsley and Shura have recently followed this route. 

So back to ELEL. Recent single Animal was a big out of the box slice of feel-good pop, one that sat in my ‘to write about’ file for quite some time and never quite got out again. So now I can make amends for the internet version of 'gathering dust' by posting this remix (from Saint Motel) which fine tunes the track with some warm electronic wizardry, sounding a bit like what a rainbow would sound like, if rainbows made sounds. There’s an album coming via Mom + Pop Music soon as well, which rest assured even if I don’t mention ELEL on the blog for another two years, I will be listening to.

ELEL - Animal (Saint Motel Remix)