TRAAMS

The legend has it that TRAAMS, a grungey three-piece hailing from Chichester, consumed thirty-three pizzas during the recording session which produced their last batch of songs. The culinery dilatoriness may have been caused by the lengthy krautrock jam sessions the band was working through whilst recording (one of their singles ‘Klaus’ clocks in at an intimidating seven minutes and the length varies from live set to set!).

TRAAMS’ bass and drums lock in well together allowing for the lead vocals to roam which ever way they please. Standout single ‘Mexico’ sees lead guitarist and vocalist Stu Hopkins synchronise his licks with the vocal melody like B.B King, though that is where the similarity ends (I don’t see B.B. being featured on a German skate video).

Having recently signed to Fat Cat records, TRAAMS are looking to release their first record ‘Grin’ in the near future. TRAAMS will be playing at the Tramlines Festival next month (uncanny billing eh?). Not one to miss!

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F.U.R.S

F.U.R.S is a London trio which features a brother and sister partnership within it. The small unit emblematises a lot of what the band stands for as, according to lead guitarist Liam Wade, the three-piece loves “short, sharp, direct music that you can sink your teeth into”. A short spell working in California with the local bands like Allah Las ingrained this ethos into the band and saw them embed the chilled sensibilities of the West coast into their music.

Added to this is a strong, female-centered theme in the band. While citing Blondie as one of F.U.R.S’ influences, Liam has described in interviews composing the bands current tracks whilst reading literature by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Novels like ‘Venus in Furs’, from which the band derives its name, feature strong and liberated female characters.

Fresh of a tour supporting Johnny Marr I expect the band is working on a solid release to back up the strong image and thought behind F.U.R.S.

Check out the video for lead single STRIPTEASE and head to sound cloud for more!

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AU.RA

AU.RA, a London via Sydney two-piece, play sun-drenched psychedelic-rock tunes with a not too dissimilar vibe to their counterparts Tame Impala. Tom Crandles and Tim Jenkins got togethe rby  chance after  meeting in Sydney, after a few bedroom jams in London with a couple of guitars, drum machine and a mic they soon ‘discovered songs amongst the noise’

Standout single ‘Sun’ isn’t complacent about its affiliation to summer with it’s washed-out vocals and bright guitars. The song’s music video is swathed in primary colours and slowed down to capture that summer heat.

AU.RA has had a few features here and there, most notably on the site The Line of Best Fit, but generally most have slept on this band.

Rumour has it that the two-piece are looking to expand and are on the lookout for a drummer and bassist in and around the London area. There’s no time like summer for AU.RA to head to the studio and release something while these rays last!

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Discopolis

The Killers first demonstrated what a modern indie band could do with synths and a decent electronic setup; now it seems that Discopolis have fine-tuned that art-forn with their intricate song-craft.

Hailing from Edinburgh, the four-piece started out circa 2010 with an encouraging number of articles, high-profile gigs and radio sessions under their belt. Their rise to popularity occurred in a rather round-and-about way however with their first record being released in Japan. Discopolis is simply one of those bands who, because of the right Chinese whispers and local trends giving them the nod, found success in a place other than home.

A couple of storming video releases have been rectifying this problem though. ‘Falling (Committed to Sparkle Motion)’ treads the line between the pop emotionalism of acts like Owl City by retaining a detached indie sensibility. Soaring synths in the chorus accompany downbeat interludes to create a deeply melodic piece with enough heft to roll the beat on.A reference to Donnie Darko in the title does not hurt either!

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Just Handshakes

JUST HANDSHAKES emerged out of the Leeds University music scene and the band has been picking up pace with each of their releases. Despite the bands wide-ranging musical influences there is a all-around love of C86 which coems thorugh in their material.’

London Bound’, the first single from their debut album ‘Say It’ which was released on the California-based label ‘Bleeding Gold’, sees the band shelve their previously rosy sound for a “darker and more angular approach”.

Early taste-makers such as Steve Lamacq, Tom Robinson and Gideon Coe have picked up on this special band and given them airplay. And with support slots with acts such as The Mystery Jets, Pete and the irates, The Shout Out Louds and Still Corners, a larger stage beckons for JUST HANDSHAKES.

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Stubborn Heart

“Electronic soul from the heart”; so goes the self-penned description of Stubborn Heart, an electronic duo who’ve drawn comparisons to James Blake, Mount Kimbie and The XX.

Accepting that the duo does indeed follow in this ‘future-garage/dubstep’ lineage is an apt way of trying to understand the band, but the points at which differ from their contemporaries draw the most interest.

The vocals, which sound liker a cleaner and sharper Anthony Hegarty, add to the atmospherics where the music, at times, fails in innovation. There is a greater emphasis on lyricism with incantatory repetitions of key lines for emphasis. Recent single ‘Need Someone’ opens with a sparse beat which ushers in a contemplative vocal line which settles broodingly on the thought “I need someone to love”.

The almost minimalist instrumentation on tracks like album opener ‘Penetrate’ draw attention to the “soul” rather than the “electronics”; this is a band who favours heart-ache over the head-nod.

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Sweet Baboo

Welsh folk purist Stephen Black who performs under the moniker Sweet Baboo has created an idiosyncratic sound when comparing his last two releases ‘Ships’ and ‘Girl Under a Tree’. On the latter EP, tracks like ‘The Day I Lost My Voice’ hint at a strong Americana influence with the bright, overdriven rhythm guitar and the Conor Oberst-esque mumble. Yet, when Stephen plays, the mind is not drawn West; instead, there is a palpable sense of Cardiff, Stephen’s home town, especially on this year’s album ‘Ships’. Despite his eclectic and far-ranging sound, Sweet Baboo is local music grounded in Welsh Folk roots.

It is there in North Wales where Stephen began finding his tastes and developed an aptitude for music while watching Welsh bands like The Furries and The Gorkys on Top of the Pops and Jools Holland. Sweet Baboo’s nomination in the Welsh Music Prize 2010/2011 brings full circle the line of Welsh influence in music as he as now become a tastemaker in his own right.

Sweet Baboo has sounded its dulcet tones at Latitude, Green Man, SXSW and the Camden Crawl. Despite the hectic touring schedule, Stephen has found time to craft a concept album about the sea titled ‘Ships’. Psychedelic single ‘Let’s Go Swimming Wild’ exudes the vibrancy of youth and the spectacular Welsh coasts Stephen so loves.

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Jo Peel

Jo Peel’s ‘Pipe Dreams’ is the largest mural completed by an individual artist.

Urban decay and construction are the main subjects of London artist Jo Peel’s drawing and animation. Her vibrant and creatively dynamic canvases suggest an attunement between the individual and the cityscape; despite the decay of the environment, her art makes it clear that it is very much the place where the heart is situated.

There is no denying the “inviting warmth” and “nostalgic feel” attributed to her work but in taking in the broad vistas she illustrates, what becomes most visible is the presence of a strong socio-cultural critique. Her site profile states that Jo “creates a dialogue by accurately recording the urban landscape in front her”. She does so “by leaving in the elements of construction and decay”; a stylistic gesture which embeds a “rawness and reality that pin-points a moment in time”. This dialogue is also the tension between the creative vibrancy of the artist and the dullness of the city.

Jo is a significant force in the urban contemporary art scene and a member of the internationally Scrawl Collective. Her most recent work is the animated short ‘Pipe Dreams’, a visual record of the process of decay as represented by a simple scrap of paper. Painted on a five-story building, ‘Pipe Dreams’ is the largest mural completed by an individual artist. It was created over the course of three months and uses a shipping container and a decommissioned double-decker bus as part of its mixed media.

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Jim Ghedi

Jim Ghedi is the equivalent of a ‘sleeper hit’ in the local Sheffield music scene. Owing to the spiritual bent and ethereal soundscapes which constitute his music, his discreet acoustic creations have been lost on those who haven’t had their ears to the ground.

Another possible reason for slow but steady rise maybe the eclectic styles the 22-year-old draws from. Some have traced his musical roots to ‘Folk, Blues, Free Jazz and Eastern World Music’ putting forward the sound suggestion that Jim Draws influences far removed from hilly suburbs of Sheffield.

Thanks to a series of well-promoted shows in and around the city, word has spread about experimental folk artist. His innovative composition rejects formal structure in favour of a rhythmically and tonally-orientated order of music.

This isn’t music you can ignore; it demands your attention and you risk losing it if the nuances and shades aren’t headed.

Jim’s right-hand man is Neal Heppleston whose instrument of choice is the double bass and his deft picking and emotive bowing lays down the low-end bass frequencies to the songs. So far Jim and Neal have delivered two astonishing releases: ‘Archipelago’ and the recent ‘Of Abyssinia’.

The reference to the old empire reflects the meditative voyage the music navigates through. Though the music is spiritual in its sonic composition the themes are earthy and natural. Recent interest indicates that this ‘sleeper hit’ is causing the steel city to finally stir.

On a side-note, does Jim look a bit like Nick Drake?

Listen to ‘Of Abysinia’ here

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Unmade Bed

When you cite ‘Futurism’ as one of your influences you set up quite a strange weight of expectation. Thankfully Dorian Cox and the rest of Unmade craft a sound and deliver a slew of songs worthy of the citation. No doubt Marinetti would salute the grit and verve though the jury’s out on whether he was a fan of disco.

The Sheffield three-piece makes no claims of perfection; fuzzy drones and flat bass lines add to the raw sound which the vocals slice through. A brash, energetic disco-tinged vibe pulses through the bands current selection of tracks and evokes the sound of a more reticent ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’.

Though Karen O would salivate at the prospect of laying a vocal over a track like the sultry ‘Baby, Please Come Home’, singer Jeanie Crystal brings a savviness to the song with her subtle and stirring enunciations, setting her apart from any comparison.

Go The Whole Way by unmadebed.

Owing to the short, week-long recording session, these songs have a visceral quality which should make for a powerful live performance. Unmade Bed will be playing on the Sunday of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival at Queens Social Club. Don’t miss them!

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Mila K

“I’d rather not sound cliché, but I feel that drawing is a means of escape. I can create things that don’t exist, I can portray how I feel at a particular time, or give a creative spin on events happening around me and the effect they’ve had.” Mila K, [Now Then]

Mila K is a longtime horror film fanatic; an understanding of his taste for the monochromatic and the unearthly is necessary in order to appreciate his vogue graphic and street art. The Sheffield based artist started out tracing and imitating the designs on horror film cases. Since then he has developed his own signature style, most notably in the form of his signature female character.

A full time illustrator, Mila has recently completely work for Michael Glawogger’s documentary film ‘Whore’s Glory’. His artwork captures the sinister artificiality of the underground world of prostitution.

The Knife and Folk gallery also recently played host to Mila’s first solo exhibition. The show was an interactive retrospective charting the development of his signature character and the diverse forms Mila has worked with.

With his masterful skill set Mila has made an impact in the worlds of street art, photgraphy, digtal art, photgraphy and, most recently fashion. Mila has designed t-shirts for local metal band Dead Harts, DEAD REIT Clothing, images for the startup watch brand LEAD and record labels.

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The Audacious Art Experiment

“The Audacious Art Experiment is more than a record label, we’re a community mindset that yearns for something more than ‘nine to five’ and aim to take back our chosen social freedoms, artistic expressions and community spirit from the companies trying to sell them to us. Music is our voice and the records we make are the product of our beliefs, dreams and desires.”

The Audacious Art Experiment is a community arts collective firmly at the heart of Sheffield’s DIY scene. The group has suffered personal losses in their upward climb but since its inception TAAE has managed to secure a well-deserved level of success.

The group pools together resources and offers out their local rehearsal space in order to encourage “challenging” music which they can them promote through their channels.

As the group states themselves ‘they are more than just a record label” and the ‘Information Buffet’ at the side of their website attests to this. Poetry, visual arts, photography, events are all disciplines the group contributes to and gets behind.

The video features friends of the TAAE, Algiers, and the song below is by previous label signee Cowtown.

Ski School by COWTOWN

The Audacious Art Experiment