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.

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.

Full Album Stream
Facebook
Soundcloud

Yola Fatoush

Yola Fatoush’s self-titled EP, released through Parlour Records in June earlier this year, introduces the duo’s emphatic cascade of sound, which washes over the listener and sees them deserving the appellations of “immersive” and “transcendental” given to them by their label.

From the synthesised bells on the track  The Premises, mixed in with discordant and droning bass patterns, to the choral arrangements on Usher in Spring, it’s clear that the band draws in tonal pallets from a variety of influences.

Leading the EP, however, is the engaging track Celine which has yelps and staccato synth bleeps and chords jarring throughout the verses; these open up to a woozy chorus that melts all the punch in the former part of the song into an “immersive” and melodic haze.

The pitched down ‘R’n’B’ samples on tracks like Circle of Pain are indebted to ‘R’n’B influences; the group cite as Chicago’s DJ Nate and producer Jeremih as experimental artists they feel connected to.

Amidst the leftfield electronic influence there is perceptible pop sensibility that informs an ear for melody and song craft Grimes would be proud of.

The attraction of the band, having said all this, is the combination of influence and technique in what is a very listenable pop style. Look out for the band as they tour in the next couple of weeks, particularly at the Oxjam Festival at The Bowery in Sheffield.