Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ESSENTIAL INDIE TRACKS FOR FEBRUARY 2015: Portico, Young Fathers, Other Lives, All We Are,…

You know how rudimental it works on internet with new songs: one music blog is posting a new single, then another blog borrows it, and so on. Same song on repeat, whatever the quality of it is. Fortunately, this monthly “Essential Tracks” is a constructive step back, giving time to several listening to singles and other songs on a full forthcoming album, for then building a conducting thread, other than being fresh songs (no more than one month). The (many) leftovers are either tracks that don’t come up with something really new, just empty and endless renditions of fashionable sounds (think electro R&B), or will reappear in another themed playlist (for instance, Alabama Shakes  Don't Wanna Fight)or in the year end lists.
Like in January, the essential indie tracks of February 2015 are also all about Indie Pop and quite dominated by UK bands, I must say. In the below player or directly from pleer, here!
1- This is a complete new debut for London/UK band Portico, ex Portico Quartet. Shorter name to reflect that they are now a trio, new sound, new label, Ninja Tune, same one than Jono McCleery who already posted last November “ Bright Luck”, this track being on Portico’s fourth album “Living Fields  out in April, and more importantly songwriting, for they we’re playing mostly instruments before (check back the tracks “Ruins or “Lacker Boo” .9 new gorgeous vocal tracks that will certainly give Portico more visibility on the music scene, with Jono McCleery (4 tracks), Jamie Woon (1), and 3 with Joe Newman (from Alt-J) including “101”. Should have been named “103” since he is singing “With a temperature of 103”!

2- Scott Matthew, not to be mistaken for Scott Matthews, English singer songwriter, both having distinctive voices, quite tormented for the Australian native and now living in Brooklyn. “Skyline” is the melancholic second single of his fourth album, full of grace, “This Here Defeat” out in March.

3- In addition to the already long list of Manchester/UK bands , here comes another four member band: Shinies. After a serie of singles and one EP, getting a bit of hate for the “Ennuivideo, they released their debut album “Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere” this February. Rumbling drums and of guitar reverbs is their definition of a slow jam and it’s all in “Waves”. Check the rest of the 9 tracks.

4- We were familiar with the beautiful sonic landscapes of the first 2 albums of American trio from Stillwater/Oklahoma, Other Lives, ex Kunek. “Reconfiguration”, the first single of its third, 14 tracks LP “Rituals” out in May, is definitely in line with “Dead Canon the “Mind The Gap” EP, which already showed a more electro side of Other Lives compositions.

5- Edinburg based trio, Young Fathers, one of my favourite bands, released a single “Soon Come Soon ” last December, in the same alternative hip-hop vein than its Mercury prize winning album “Dead”, out last year, that won’t be part of the 12 tracks third album due in April, controversially named “White Men Are Black Men Too”. The first single is a more poppy track “Rain Or Shine” as powerful as the band is live.

6- Funky tracks like first single “Feel Safeare still present in the eponym debut album of Liverpool/UK based band All We Are, but half of the 11 tracks are also catchy synth-pop songs. Since every blog already posted the Scissor Sisters-esque single, “Keep Me Alive, let’s lend an hear to “Ebb/Flow” which stands out with a deep metallic beat.

 7- Birmingham/UK quartet Peace’s second album out this February, “Happy People” has 18 tracks in it! Away from the Vampire Weekend tone of its debut, Peace now found its own way into the sound of the 90’s UK indie styles, especially on "World Pleasure". Not ashamed to say: Give Peace a Chance

8- Indie Pop/Rock music in the 90’s was at his best in UK: along with The Stone Roses , The Charlatans appeared on the music scene in 1990 with “The Only One I Know” and later “Weirdo. Despite the years and losses, their 12th latest album, “Modern nature” out end of January and packed with great tracks, is a good demonstration that this band is always alive and kicking along with singer Tim Burgess new oxidized haircut. “So Oh” was an early standout and has also a remix by Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre).

9- Skipping tune, “Where The Sky Hangs”, second single in a row taken from Massachusetts /USA band, Passion Pit third album “Kindred” set for an April release, is announcing a promising set of catchy synth-pop songs like the band is used to.

10- Guitarist Graham Coxon is back again in English band Blur, so a single like “Go Out” taken from a long awaited eight album (12 years!) “The Magic Whip” to be released in April, is always good news. To illustrate thearduous relationship between Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon, in 2006 Coxon released a song  called “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” !

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ESSENTIAL INDIE TRACKS FOR JANUARY 2015: Iain Woods, C Duncan, BC Camplight, Petite Noir,…

Don't seek further! The new indie tracks of January 2015 you have to hear are playlisted here.
Among hundreds of new releases, the essential ones this month are all about Indie Pop music. Sophisticated pop music, not the one you could find in the pop charts. Classic songwriting style, experimental, creative or simply melodious, all highlighted in this January 2015 playlist. With exceptionally 11 tracks, since Björk was rushed to release her new album this month instead of March, in the below player or directly from pleer, here!
1- Multi-instrumentalist Christopher Duncan aka C Duncan comes from Glasgow/Scotland/UK. Since this angelic little track “And I”, B- Side of the single "For" out last December, might not be on his forthcoming LP due to be released in summer 2015 on FatCat Records, here it is! With “Saythe second single, it is sounding like a very promising debut album.

2- It’s not with her ninth album, “Vulnicura”, that Björk is back into the pure pop world of her first albums: with the help of Venezuelan producer, Alejandro Ghersi, aka Arca whose debut album “Xen” came out last November, she is deeply into the experimental pop world. “History of Touches” is the shortest and most harmonious track.

3- Fan of Björk, British Art-Pop artist Iain Woodsfirst LP “Psychologist” issued 1 month ago on his soundcloud, was once a project called “Autophobe”, under his moniker name “Psychologist. After a few EPs (Stanislavsky, Waves of OK , Propeller EP in 2011 with a strange video) Psychologist, at that time, described his LP as “A trash-pop romp through an existential crisis” which is still the case after the releasing of "Psychologist" under his real name: it’s an Unidentified Flying Object.11 tracks as diverse as the featured Massive Attack-esque track “When Particules Collide”, the only one from his previous works who made it on the album, extracts of speeches( Panic Over), Timbaland-esque beats(The Dirty Movement), jazzy (Fiend), bluesy(Smoke), rock (Bella).Certainly intriguing.

4- It’s with a pinch of psych-pop that Canadian musician Alex Calder, once a collaborator of Mac DeMarco’s outfit Make out Videotape, released his debut album “Strange Dreams” this month, after 2 EPs in 2014. “Strange Dreams”, the first single, and “No Device” are examples of his dazed sound and vocals.

5- In UK, the young (under 25) generation of pop musicians, is over publicized with the guitar boys (Ed Sheeran, George Ezra,..) and the blue eyed soul ones (Sam Smith, John Newman,…) but there is an alternative approach that could be led by South London singer songwriter Alex Burey. His “Inside World” debut EP is out next February on bandcamp and he already delivered 2 tracks on soundcloud, last one being “The Intimidator”. Definitely intimidated by his talent!

6- The first single “Bored in the USA”, doesn’t reflect the variety of the 11 songs on the second album “I Love You Honeybear”, out next February, of Joshua Tillman under the Father John Misty moniker he is using since 2012 : folk, country, rock and pop. “True Affection” is the most sophisticated pop track with the synth beats.
7- Trying to understand Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) lyrics has always been a difficult task unless he repeats several times “Are You Mad ?” like in the track “Come To Your Senses”, the poppiest song of his fifth solo album “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper” issued this month.

8- With 3 albums and several EPs, how come Fuji Kureta  remains quite unknown? Certainly because the synth-pop duo made of Deniz Öztürk, Şahin Kureta is coming from… Istanbul/Turkey. “Yetunde” EP is the latest release with the single “Open Up”. Oddly enough to mention, Deniz, has a deeper voice sounding like Björk, and also sings in French

9- Cape Town-based Yannick Ilunga aka Petite Noir's single in 2012, “Pressure, was labelled as Noirwave sound, but since “Noirse”, Petite Noir is close to the “neo” Kwaito sound, with exotic percussive loop samples, and his 5 tracks EP “The King of Anxiety” out this month and single “Chess” is a good taste of it. 

10- UK indie darlings Belle and Sebastian might find a younger generation of fans with their more playful ninth album “Girls in Peacetime Like to Dance” out in January. Among the 12 tracks, classic pop is still here along with "not so nice" dance pop tracks. “Perfect Couples”, that reconciles the 2 rhythm orientations, is quite an unusual track with its exotic percussions.
11- Despite the name of his third album, “How To Die In The North”, and after eight years since his last album, it’s a resurrection (from depression) for New Jersey’s pop songwriter Brian Christinzio, aka BC Camplight, and a relocation (in Manchester/UK) that lead to this 9 tracks album out this January. With a little help from 5 musicians on “You Should've Gone To School” he delivers a catchy tune full of sunshine-pop of the 60’s.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


For this fifth and last “Indie Tracks Best of 2014”, choosing 10 songs in the Indie Folk/Pop/Rock music genres out of hundreds heard this year was an unquiet business, so there is a little bit more! In addition to the tracks already recommended in the monthly essential Indie tracks (that you can check back in the older posts), the “Best of 2014” of No Music is above 110 tracks! Below or directly from pleer.
1- Nicole Miglis’ voice from Hundred Waters is one of the most elaborate female voice I’ve heard, from high pitched vocals to delicate wisp (around 1:36 “Yesterday was your birthday, happy birthday”) especially on this gorgeous track “Murmurs” part of their sophomore album “The Moon Rang Like a Bell” out last May. Along with her fellow musicians from Gainesville/Florida, now based in LA, they are creating a mosaic of bright digital sounds (even a police siren) and textures with an aery resonance.

2- English singer-songwriter from Devon, Ben Howard, also released a second album “I Forget Where We Were” last October. Being a surfer, he was once named the UK’s response to Jack Johnson or a new James Blunt and he is not the only British guy with guitar(to name a few, Ed Sheeran, Marcus Foster or more recently George Ezra), but his very recognizable husky voice makes the difference. “End Of The Affair” was the first single, “Small Things” video is made of cuts from Sean Penn’s movie “Into The Wild”.

3- The voice of Brisbane/Australia singer songwriter Benjamin Forbes is taking another magnitude on his solo project, Banff.Different from his vocals in disbanded indie rock outfit Little Casino, with a more pastoral folk twist. “Stand In Line” is a take from his upcoming EP, “Future Self”.

4- After a couple of EPs, 4 piece band from Melbourne/Australia, Lowlakes released their debut dark dream-pop album “Iceberg Nerves” last February. Frontman Tom Snowdon’s voice ranges between Antony Hegarty and Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts). Funnily, “Cold Company” beats reminds me the ones from a French band in the 70’s, Martin Circus "Je m'éclate au Sénégal".
5- From Birmingham/Alabama, comes Orenda Fink. Apart from playing in Azure Ray and having another project (on hiatus for the moment), O + S she issued a third solo album last August, “Blue Dream”.The "Ace of Cups" Tarot card's meaning is of joy and inner peace from friends and family, which perfectly reflects the tone of this track, warm and enveloping.

6- 23-years-old and ex NYU students, Jesse Aicher and Matt Walsh, are Prelow.They have a few songs on their soundcloud and are preparing material for an upcoming EP. “Mistakes like This” is a song from/for an uninhibited generation (regarding sex and pronunciation!).

7- “So What?” is the expression used when we don’t give a shit about something and it’s the title of this track from Californian Avi Zahner-Isenberg aka Avi Buffalo second album “At Best Cuckhold” out last September. The chorus cheerfully repeats 16 times “So What?”. What a treat!

8- Escaping from the duo he is/was in with Giacomo, London graffiti artist Sam Sure released a solo single, Hunger, with remixes to fill an EP last October. Synth Pop at its best !

9- Cosmo's Midnight is twin brothers and remixers Cosmo & Patrick Liney from Sydney/Australia. After a few EPs of their own material, bouncy single “Snare, featuring Wild Eyed Boy (not Bowie himself) was out last November on soundcloud.

10- I’m a big fan of English band Breton since their debut in 2010. “Got Well Soon” from their sophomore album “War Room Stories” was already in the February 2014 Best Indie Tracks  and “Envy”, with the perfect introduction of speedy steel beats at 1:34, is their catchiest track ever!
11- "Inside Out" is about time: some bands don’t disappear and for 20 years, this has fortunately been for Austin/Texas band Spoon. Alex Fischel, part of Divine Fits with Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and new band Operators)is also in Spoon’s eighth album “They Want My Soul” out last August.

12- After a first solo album "Phrazes for the Young" in 2009, The Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas, has teamed up with The Voidz to release his second one, “Tyranny” last September. “Take Me In Your Army” is unexpectedly very poppy.

13- As previously said here, the surprising discovery, at Pitchfork Festival in Paris last November, came from the 4 piece Montreal based and punk-esque band Ought.Even though the comparison with David Byrne sound and look -alike member, guitarist and vocalist Tim Beeler was too obvious, especially on this track “Habit” from their first "proper" full-length album “More Than Any Other Day”, issued in April, they overstepped this cliché.They released a third EP “Once More With Feeling...” last October.