British Sea Power

“ALERT! ALERT! ACTUALLY DECENT BAND PLAYING IN YORK ALERT!”

Now, upon reading the above on my Facebook news feed, my naturally inquisitive mind wants instantly to investigate. And, the (slightly over-egged) announcement is quite right, these guys are a decent band!

British Sea Power are a six-piece band variously originating from Cumbria, Yorkshire, Ealing and Shropshire who are currently based in East Sussex and on the Isle of Skye. Their multi-instrumental style (guitars, bass, keys, drums, a viola and a cornet) gives them a wonderfully rich and unique sound that seems to have thrilled their fans and reviewers alike. The Sunday Times have called them “the best band in Britain” while a Rolling Stone review dismissed the entire line up of the Reading Festival as “puerile drivel” and adding “we’re off to see British Sea Power”.

Far from starting out, British Sea Power are ten years more mature than their debut album (released 2003), but their new album Machineries of Joy sees them really hitting their stride. Their hard work and perseverance really shows: a recent poll of BBC 6 Music listeners on the most important tracks of the stations lifetime but British Sea Power’s track, ‘Remember Me’ at number 9. Putting this into context, that’s just above Radiohead and just behind Johnny Cash.

If you want to check out this band properly, visit their website – http://www.britishseapower.co.uk/ – where you can find links to all of their social media, videos of their performances as well as tour dates, so you can appreciate them live.

THE HICS

I belong to that category of people who get absolutely irascible when someone puts on music when they need to focus; little did I know that this major personality aspect would be changed forever when I stumbled upon The Hics’ SoundCloud. And so, it is gently lulled by the soothing voice of Roxana Dayette that I am currently writing a review about this very promising sextet that is bursting with talent and that is just starting to be recognized among the British underground scene.

Sam Paul Evans (vocals), Jacob Welsh (drums), Geordon Reid-Campbell (guitar), Matt Knox (bass), David Turay (saxophone) and Roxana Dayette (vocals), aged 17 to 24, almost all met at Pimlico School in London, where the band was formed and named after hickory (the wood drumsticks are made of). The Hics was at first a two-piece band and as it gradually grew into a six-piece, it was successful in imposing a rare and unique style that is not easy to define. Instrumentation-wise, their work is light and aerial, with gentle beats that subtly enhance the suavity of their slow melodies. To a sophisticated bass backdrop, Turay’s saxophone does the trick and sets the jazzy tone that is the trademark for the band. The Hics define their style as “electronic swing” but clearly their music is shaped by a variety of influences and rather goes into different styles, ranging from indie to jazz, with a touch of soul and even mild dubstep.

But what probably makes The Hics so distinctive is their vocals: Sam’s deep, masculine voice mingles with Roxana’s slightly melancholic but very sensual voice, which provides some gorgeous harmonies that fit in perfectly in the musical pieces. Lyrics follow on in the same vein as well, with a strong emphasis on fading and dissolution in Tangle, or a lament about a non-reciprocal love in Cold Air. One word to describe their work? It would probably be smooth.

The Hics therefore fit exactly in contemporary musical trends and their work is becoming increasingly popular. They released their first album last August, which you can download on Itunes and featured on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto 5. For more info, you can visit their official website, or follow them on Twitter or SoundCloud.

Mano’s Daughter

I am a fan of Tim Minchin, and as such, I follow him on Twitter. So, naturally when I read the tweet, “Tim Minchin: Gig Tip: Saw @ManosDaughter live the other night. Huge fan. Unique sound, brilliant lyrics, beautiful vocalist. Next gig Dec 6th @Cargo_LDN.”, I decided to check them out.

Upon doing so, I was amazed that this band hadn’t crossed my path before. They are an extremely talented trio, producing a wonderful collection of alternative electronic music, most of which cannot be described as anything less than hauntingly beautiful.

Hailing from London, the group consists of Sarah Carter (Vocals), Matthias Garrick (Synths, programming) and Dan See (Drums). They have been described as a mixture of Little Dragon, Florence and The Machine, with hints of Portishead. When seen live, (by audiences other than Tim Minchin) they have been described as “an explosive three piece, with their almost anthemic choruses and thought provoking lyrics”. They really do provide a really interesting listen, and go particularly well with essay-writing or coursework (something of a preoccupation of mine at the moment!).

Their influences range from The Invisible, Foals, Everything Everything to Bon Iver and Moloko. Mano’s Daughter make songs and song-writing the heart of their sound. The story and production values both play an equal part in this band’s finished product.

Check them out at http://www.manosdaughter.co.uk/ or just search for them on Youtube. Their own written stuff is incredible, but also I can thoroughly recommend their cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Towers’ which is just stunning.

The King’s Parade

Sometimes all you need to find talent is to take a hike – or a walk in Camden Locke. Whilst wandering to the nearby station and grabbing some Pakistani-style chicken masala wrap (with cheese), I followed the catchy strains of guitar drifting past the bridge and came across The King’s Parade – to be precise, their four talented members, Olivier Corpe (vocals/guitar), Sam Rooney (piano/vocals), Tom English (bass and sax), and Chris ‘The King” Brent, wielding his drumsticks with savvy.

In this age of Internet-based advertising, it’s refreshing to find a band that so relentlessly and successfully pursues a musical career through direct interaction with their listeners: live street performances. Scrolling through the music video of their hit single “Vagabond” on Youtube, the enthusiastic comments are largely from fans exclaiming that they found the R&B band through performances in places ranging from Trafalgar Square, Camden, the British Museum and even Leeds.

Their music is catchy and melodic, upbeat notes and rich, deep voices tinged with melancholia. The Parade’s Motown influences lend soul to their professional compositions and contemporary lyrics, perhaps best seen in “Vagabond”, which has now over 18,000 plays on Soundcloud and has amassed them a slowly growing fanbase – one whose strength rests in the fact that that many of those fans have already had the privilege of listening to them live, and know they prove to be just as good in reality as through a computer screen or filtered through a pair of headphones.

The King’s Parade’s first album will be officially released this October, and their next gig is coming up on the 16th of October at Paper Dress in London. If you’re seeking a quietly enchanting something to go with that chilled drink in the dusk of evening or some bluesy tunes to keep you company in the silence of the night, have a listen to the band by perusing their website and Facebook, or following their sounds via Soundcloud and Youtube.

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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September Sky

This week I caught up with a fantastic young band, who have been working hard to develop their unique style. Hertfordshire based September Sky are an extremely talented group with both songwriting talent and awesome performance ability. With a string of upcoming shows the band are becoming more well known, with their talents continuing to develop. Definitely one to watch! Their music is deep, memorable and very catchy. I highly recommend you check them out, and definitely make it to one of their gigs if your in the hertfordshire, london area! With all great bands you haven’t fully experienced them, until you’ve seen them live. I caught up with the guys to ask them a few questions:

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Tell me a bit about your musical style as a band

Our style is one we like to say we found on our own. It is based around a pop punk/Alternative style with some post hardcore mixed in.

What influences and inspires you most, when creating your music?

I think we all have different influences, but that’s where our sound comes from. By each of us having our own we create something new. Mostly alternative bands like Paramore and Fightstar to Interpol, Coheed and Cambria, Evanescence and many others.

As a group, have you found if difficult to establish your style, or has it just come naturally?

We feel it came quite naturally, we enjoy what we play and we all seem to write music in a very similar style to each other so there’s not really much of a struggle to fit each other into one style, especially considering the diversity of music we listen to. Sometimes difficulties can come along for us when writing but once the ball gets rolling things come a lot easier.

What are your thoughts on the british music scene of today?

Different. Very different! It’s funny to see just how much music changes over the years and we think that if you go looking for them, there are hundreds of fantastic bands around, no matter what style or genre you prefer. We’ve played with such a huge range of bands and most nights we’ve found something we’ve really enjoyed and gotten into. There is so much creativity around where as, probably due to restrictions on freedom, some big signed bands can be lacking in something sometimes, but all n all the British scene is good

Finally where can our readers see more of you guys in the future? Do you have any up and coming shows or projects?

You can check out our Facebook page and our twitter

A few of our songs can be found on youtube and on our band page. 

And we have a video in the works so keep an eye out for us

The gigs we got coming up are 
20th July Bridgehouse, London
19th October Asylum Chelmsford
We hope to see you all there 

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I hope you enjoyed that guys! Be sure to check out the band online to be the first to hear about new songs and upcoming shows!

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Neverstar

Recently I had the pleasure of getting to know a fantastic new band, Neverstar. The incredible rock/metal band from Hertfordshire have hit the ground running, and have been churning out one awesome song after another. With a strong style they have developed over time, the band offer something different to the british music scene of today. The band themselves are all incredibly talented individuals, something that is rare in bands today. This of course helps them to create songs that are both well written, and performed, but also refreshing to listen to. I urge you to give them a try. Here’s what they had to say:

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Tell me a bit about your musical style as a band

We play a mixture of modern rock and symphonic metal. Musically we like to experiment and come up with something a little different.

What influences and inspires you most, when creating your music?

It can really be anything from a guitar riff, something on the news or even personal experiences.

As a group, have you found if difficult to establish your style, or has it just come naturally?

In the beginning we played around with various things, and it did take some time to find what feels authentically Neverstar. It definitely took some work to get to where we are today.

What are your thoughts on the British music scene of today?

It’s an exciting time, as there’s so many interesting new bands using influences from all kinds of genres. 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

Perfect your craft, give it everything you’ve got and don’t give up.

Finally where can our readers see more of you guys in the future? Do you have any up and coming shows or projects?

We are working on new songs as we always do, and hope to get a second album out in a year or so. Gig wise, we’ll be playing in Southampton on 14 July and in Welwyn Garden City on 30 August.

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If you want to see more of Neverstar, or want to find out when you can see then live, then head over to their website now, they won’t disappoint you!

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Early Cartographers

Early Cartographers are a multi-instrumental acoustic outfit currently purveying their own upbeat folk(ish)-pop melodies across Sheffield. Encompassing a diverse range of musical influences and styles, not to mention beautiful harmonies and a huge array of different instruments, Early Cartographers  are quite the musical-melting pot. With a seemingly ever-evolving line-up, it might be a fair to assess them as less of a band and more of a musical collective, a description which seems to fit a group who confess they prefer playing “in parks, allotments, on rooftops and the back rooms of small cafés”, although they are happy to play more conventional venues too. This collective ethos coupled with the sharing of the song-writing load, the vocals and, indeed, the instruments, means that this group come across as something rather wonderful, carving a unique niche for themselves in a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for bands to stand out.

The music itself is quite glorious, moving effortlessly as it does between soft and ethereal to powerful and resounding, all the while laid over with perfectly balanced harmonies. Poetic lyrics are intertwined with a rich musical canvas of acoustic guitars, strings, percussion and brass, giving each track a multi-layered quality that builds and soars into something quite captivating.

If you’re after something unusual, simultaneously uplifting and haunting, poetic and with the ability to enchant, then you’ve come to the right place. For more tracks, news and live dates, head over to the Early Cartographers website or check out their Facebook page. Ooh, and don’t forget to download their EP ‘The Wolf Chorus’ via their bandcamp.

Blossomer

A rise out from the depths and a swift return back into them; Blossomer, a sleeping giant?

Blossomer is an enigma for any writer trying to figure them out at the moment; the Sheffield three-piece released a hazy and obscure video and single in January and, aside from a solitary debut show at ‘The Bowery’, there isn’t a whiff of the band. This is owing to the decision to hibernate into the studio and perfect a selection of tracks for a likely future release. The obscurity of the release works as an apt metaphor for the band itself who quickly rose out of the depths of obscurity and event more swiftly returned back into them.

There have been justified comparisons made to ‘Wild Beasts’ in the wake of the single ‘Brother’ with its ethereal backing croons and earthy pedalled guitar riff. But the main focus of this song is that vocal line which pierces through the hazy effects and rings with a certain clarity and precision which would make Hayden Thorpe proud.

From what I can see the band has been featured BBC Introducing Sheffield and on other site online. Though they are currently a fairly non-descript band, this is an exclusive well worth paying attention to.

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High Hazels

DENS were the subject of my first post of the latest Born in Britain campaign so it seems appropriate to share the fantastic band that supported them at their gig at ‘The Great Gatsby’.

Fresh from a string of gigs in and around the north and some time in the studio, High Hazels’ thoughtful dream pop aesthetic has garnered interest from revered quarters. Steve Lamacq played the single ‘French Rue’ on his Radio 2 and the band has received approving nods from Jarvis Cocker, Gideon Coe, Lauren Lavern and The Crookes.

In that single, the smooth croon of James Leesley’s vocals sit comfortably atop the clean jangle of guitars. When the track sinks into its chorus the vocals pitch and plummet in unison with the lead guitar. Here is a band with an ear for the stirring rhythms of bands Real Estate and Lotus Plaza though their tastes seem to revivify an older age.

Citing Art Garfunkel, Elbow and The Walkmen as influences High Hazels place themselves in the same mould of acts who have really plied their trade. The band spent two years locked away in the practice room, delaying any live performances until they had a collection of songs they were happy with.

Early in February High Hazels gave a taste of their sultry vibes at an Exposed Live Session. If you’re intrigued seek out the band at their pages:

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