Bipolar Sunshine

Manchester born Bipolar Sunshine is having a good year. He has been steadily gaining recognition for the past few months, ever since he released his debut EP Aesthetics back in June 2013. His new EP ‘Drowning Butterflies’ came out in November and he has already toured with Bastille, Haim, and performed at Lovebox, Reading and Leeds Festival. It’s safe to say he is one artist to watch over the next year.

Bipolar Sunshine, aka Adio Marchant has grown since the break-up of his former band, Kid British. As proven by his second EP, his sound is more mature, having lost the indie-ska undertones, leaving Marchant with a grown voice à la King Krule, singing over some indie-rock-gospel-soul and pop tunes…all the while with some reggae flavour. Talk about eclectic. The song ‘Love More, Worry Less’ is definitively the standout track of the album ‘Drowning Butterflies’, which is a tune that soothes you, electrifies you and leaves you wanting for more. Almost like a spoken word performance, the song is executed with beauty, finesse, sobriety and elegance. The video accompanying it is creative on all points, with slow motion shots of yellow-saturated vast landscapes, making the dreamy and hopeful atmosphere especially acute.

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.

Yoshika Colwell

Known to everyone as Yoshi, Yoshika Colwell is an undergraduate at the University of York and everyone who knows her know about her voice.

Singing live gigs across the city at various cabaret and jazz nights, Yoshi wows audiences wherever she sings with her beautiful smooth tone and alternative covers. She has a range of covers on Youtube under the title ‘Live in the Living Room’ where she re-discovers well known songs in a simple, yet beautiful style. Listening to them, you wouldn’t know she hadn’t written them herself. My personal favourite is her cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Soul Rebel’ – believe me, it’s nothing like you’ve heard that song before!

As well as her beautiful covers, Yoshi also provides the vocal track for the radio drama Trimble, produced by URY (University Radio York) and written by Edward Greenwood. The show is currently nominated in the Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio drama catagory in the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2014.

I thoroughly recommend listening to Yoshi and checking out her music. Not just because she’s a lovely person, but also because she’s an incredibly talented musician. Her soundcloud has a lot of good examples of her music – https://soundcloud.com/yoshikacolwell – but check out that aforementioned Bob Marley cover – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqzxYuV_Pwc

CALLUM BEATTIE

Prepare your lighters: if you’re lucky enough to live in Edinburgh, you cannot miss another one of Callum Beattie’s performances, which are regularly organized in the heart of Old Town, at Malone’s Irish Bar. Be ready to succumb to the irresistible charisma of his Scottish accent as he will carry you away at the sound of his slightly melancholy music. And don’t wait too long before doing this, because one thing is certain; it will not be long before Beattie fills up larger concert halls and you lose the connection you definitely felt with him in the intimacy of a small Scottish pub.

Callum Beattie is an Edinburgh-based, incredibly talented composer and songwriter, who has already been spotted by influential music critics like Jamie Cullum (who described him as “a natural songwriter”), and is just starting to make a name for himself on the European indie music scene. Despite only being 24 years old, he has already made several appearances on British television and participated in hundreds of gigs over the UK and Europe. His collaboration with the Scottish music producer Al James started in 2011 and resulted in a very promising first album, This Time This Place, that was released in September 2012 and is downloadable on Itunes. Beyond any doubt, he is an up-and-coming talent that is clearly worth keeping a sharp eye on.

Strongly inspired by James Morrison, Oasis and David Gray, he excels in his own style, combining tranquil instrumentals with a magnetic voice. There are nostalgic aspects to his songs but they remain the kind of songs you can listen to in any situation, from doing your washing-up to cruising on a road-trip with friends. His music is balanced and harmonious, with sonorities that are at times indie and at times closer to alternative rock. As such he surely is a considerable asset for Scottish music – and the legitimate successor of Paolo Nutini. ‘Salamander Street’ is one of his finest and most impressive tunes, especially given that it was composed and written when he was 17 it will take you on a journey into the streets of Edinburgh through the touching story of a sad young woman; as Al James says himself to disliking Youtubers, “it’ll be a long time before you meet a 17 year old songwriter (…), who writes a song with the maturity of this lyric”. Youtuber: 0; Callum Beattie: 1.

To be informed of his latest gigs, tunes and other events, you can follow Callum Beattie on Twitter or on Facebook, but ideally come and see him live in Edinburgh at Malone’s or Studio 24!

Amber Run

Amber run is a five piece indie-rock band based in Nottingham. The boys first caught people’s attention when they uploaded their melodic cover of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ to the internet. Since then, though, they’ve exceeded all expectations with their original songs, despite only having been playing for just over a year. The catchy yet captivatingly haunting track ‘Noah’ caught the eyes and ears of yet more music fans, leading to their becoming increasingly popular on the local scene.

My first encounter with the band was at Sheffield venue The Harley, where they shone bright playing songs from their self released EP ‘Heaven’ (first released under the band name ‘Amber’) and new songs from an upcoming EP, which they hope to release this year. But I was late to the game; the band had already played Reading and Leeds on the BBC’s Introducing stage having captured the heart of BBC presenter Dean Jackson who’d listened to the tracks the band had uploaded on BBC Introducing.

Amber run fit right into an increasingly popular brand of indie music, combining the melodic harmonies that brought Mumford and Sons into the spotlight with catchy indie rock we all know and love. But that’s not all that makes them special – what’s sets them apart for me is the poetic nature of their lyrics which are dripping with a gritty kind of honesty that one rarely comes across in today’s sex-and-drugs fueled music scene.

The band have recently played in London and will be supporting Irish indie rockers Kodaline on their sold out UK tour.

You can listen to their stuff here.

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.

Adam French

Adam French is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from the North-West of England. His life as a solo-artist has been relatively short, yet he has already accomplished a lot. He has been featured as a top story on the National BBC ‘introducing’ page, as well as recently completing a tour of Southern Africa.

He’s received wonderful reviews for his music both live and recorded and has now produced a music video (featured) for his new single ‘Shiver’, starring Hollyoaks actress Bianca Hendrickse-Spendlove and directed by Dean Straffron.

Adam spins himself as a new, innovative musician and has a genuine love for what he does. He is described by reporters as being incredibly hard-working and seems dedicated to his career. His style has all the workings of indie magic, and his emotive lyrics are thought provoking and well thought out. It’s evident that this is a musician who has worked hard at perfecting his craft and it seems the time has come for that hard work to start paying off.

Adam has also mastered the art of the ‘hook’ – his songs are catchy, almost addictive – and he achieves this with ease (and without the mass irritation caused by most ‘catchy’ tunes). After listening to his single a couple of times you can’t help but find yourself singing a few of his lyrics under your breath throughout the rest of the day. And what’s more, you don’t hate him for it!

If you want to find out more about Adam and his work or listen to more of his music there are several places you can go. Check out his Twitter @AdamFrenchUK or like him on Facebook – www.facebook.com/adamfrenchmusicuk

Alternatively, just visit his website www.adamfrench.co.uk and there are links to all of his social media, bios and much much more!

Odinn Orn Hilmarsson

Originally from Iceland and now living in London, Odinn is a graduate of the University of York whom I had the pleasure of meeting in my first year. Evidently a very talented multi-instrumental musician, just listening to him play is a wonderful experience, but it is his composition that sets him apart from the norm.

During his time as a student, Odinn began writing and producing scores for several of the theatre shows and films he became involved in during his spare time and his Masters degree in Digital Film Production. This has only spiralled, with his music now featuring in multiple shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The King’s Head Theatre (London), The Last Refuge Theatre (London) and many more.

Odinn’s acoustic and ethereal style is beautifully unique; his work has that invaluable quality of the greats like Zimmer and Williams – you know when you’re listening to Odinn Hilmarsson. And when you do listen to his music, you get that other-worldly prickling feeling reserved for finding something truly special. That and the chills usually caused by musical genius.

You can find his newest song Tomasina on his Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/gangleri – as well as teasers from his current projects and other experimental work.

Alternatively, you can find more of Odinn’s finished work at http://odinnhilmarsson.bandcamp.com/, or follow him on Twitter @odinnthehole. I can’t recommend highly enough giving this talented emerging artist a listen – you may just get the chance to boast, “I heard it before he was a household name”.

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.

Jonnie Common

I met Jonnie Common at the gig he played at Broadcast in Glasgow, in the beginning of May, after an electrifying set played in the basement. Normally I’ll skirt the opening acts of a gig, but thankfully I didn’t this time. With a name like Jonnie Common (yes, that’s his real name), you kind of have to be doing something original and inspiring. He’s been making music under this “alias” since around about 2009, and is currently signed to Red Deer Club records in Manchester, though he hails from, and is based in, Glasgow. The lyrics are off-kilter; subtly humorous, which becomes even more endearing with the Scottish dialect being so well pronounced. Not being afraid to show where he’s from, the songs are home grown and hark clear about his roots, something so refreshing in a world of homogenous song writing aimed at being universal. It’s clear on tongue-in-cheek song So-called Summer with the lyrics, The summer’s so cold/ I don’t know what to do when its warm and later on My brain is running down the back of my neck. If you’ve ever been to Scotland, you know the coma Scots are thrown in to when the thermometer passes 15 degrees. Always apt in his lyrics, the musical aspect is well orchestrated with a veritable children’s toy extravaganza of instruments used to create lots of layers and upbeat fantasies. There’s something vaguely familiar in his style, though it’s always easy to begin citing influences and sound-alike bands, but he easily falls into the category of originality as a great lyricist and musician. Currently working on a new album, with a working release date set for October, his new single Figurehead is out now. On Figurehead, Common sings: Though I can’t finish everything I start/I have the best intentions. Well, let’s hope he finishes the new album, as I, for one, can’t wait to hear what else Common has under wraps. Have a listen here.

Have a browse through his website, and keep an eye out for a final release date.

 

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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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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