Leon Bridges – Coming Home

I am always on the lookout for new artists regardless of genre, and have to say that I do enjoy hearing that little hint of something that could become something great. I can remember exactly when and where I was when I first heard Leon Bridges, and I can also remember that I dug out a piece of paper to write his name down as I needed to research who I was listening to.

Zane Lowe played the song “Coming Home” on his Radio One show one evening in October last year and I just happened to hear it while I was sitting in a hotel room in London. I had only put the radio on to hear the new Fall Out Boy single, but I was met with this beautiful, soulful voice and knew straight away that this was going to be something that I would like.

Upon returning home, I tried to track down who this person was so I could see if there was an album available, but it turned out that only two demo songs existed on SoundCloud at that time. It appeared, however, that the exposure on Radio One had led to more people like myself trying to find out more about this artist as there was lots of sharing of these two songs happening on Twitter. I liked “Coming Home” so much that in my end of year blog for 2014, I stated that Leon would be an artist to watch out for in 2015. It looks like I was right.

So, who is Leon and what type of music does he play? I guess you could call him a retro throwback to the 1960s. His voice is reminiscent of the great Sam Cooke and despite only being 25 years old, he is bringing the old style soul to the masses on his debut album Coming Home. The album has been met with high praise indeed with the sweet sounds from this Texan native harking back to a more simple era – one that he’s not afraid to embrace.

Coming Home was recorded using retro equipment, which adds to the overall sound that he’s trying to achieve. You might think that this is just a new artist trying to copy his influences in order to make it into the charts, but this album isn’t like that: Leon clearly knows the style he wishes to emulate, but rather than just copying it, he has made something that is his own and given it a new feel.

Stand out songs for me include the gorgeous title track, and “Better Man”, a song in which he is going to swim the Mississippi for his girl. Its rather upbeat style should have you tapping your feet along to it. The ten tracks on this debut deal with romance in a truly nostalgic style: you can hear the doo-wops in the background and the elements of blues soaked gospel on the closing track “River” will leave you wanting to hear more.

I think I was proved right on the fact that Leon is an artist to check out this year, but the question I guess should be does he have more to give in the future? I would certainly hope so. This is a great debut album and has come along to raise the profile of old style soulful R&B and bring it to a whole new audience. I am very much looking forward to hearing what comes next from this talented newcomer.

Recommended.

Surf Rock is Dead – Anymore

Bimbling along over on Soundcloud I came across a lovely jangle, and, noticing the name, I thought it looked familiar.

Surf Rock is Dead.

Ah yes, featured them a while back, as I recall. Song was called “Zen A”. I wrote some nonsense to go with the track, so maybe that’s why I only discovered this one by accident. Given the drivel I’m offering up to go with “Anymore” it’s a pattern I expect to continue.

Which is a pity, because “Anymore” is a bloody lovely, jangly, dream-pop trip that leaves me wanting more from a band who can’t help but conjure a summer sound with every beat.

http://www.surfrockisdead.com/

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Active Bird Community – Pick Me Apart

Pick Me Apart is the first single from the new album by the excellently named NYC rock band Active Bird Community. Not only does it get the coveted (pretty sure it is) RRP Recommends treatment, but we’d give it a super-recommend if we had such a thing. Kind of like an A*, except we wouldn’t end up giving them to everyone and have to start taking them away again to stop the whole thing getting out of hand.

So basically listen to it, and see if you agree (you will) that the vocal jumps in the chorus and the tidy little surprise guitar solo are just two of the reasons why this is a great slackery sort of indie rock. And then go buy it for the princely sum of one dollar from the band’s bandcamp page (link above).

And I know in my heart
when you pick me apart
nothing feels better

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Fort Lean – Might’ve Misheard

Brooklyn five-piece Fort Lean are set to release their debut album Quiet Day this October. Ahead of it comes Might’ve Misheard, a funky indie-disco onslaught inspired by the great touring adventure: pitching up unknown, somewhere unknown to you, and not knowing how you’ll be welcomed. It’s a fine taster for an album that takes in glam, new wave, and generally free-wheeling indie rock grooviness.

Quiet Day is out on October 2nd, on ooh la la records. You can pre-order from this link right here: http://smarturl.it/FortLean

http://www.fortlean.com/

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Sinfiction – Ugly Baby

“Ugly Baby” is one half of the fruits of Sinfiction’s recent successful crowdfunding campaign. The single is set to be jointly released on September 14th along with “Painted Memories”; both tracks were recorded together over a hectic summer that saw them support Alabama 3 as part of the Brixton jam and annoy the makers of some indie film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens by making too much noise playing live at Pinewood Studios.

“Ugly Baby” wastes no time in pulling out its top-notch indie dance moves, showing off some fine production and a video to go with the song’s sorry tale of looking back and wondering where it went wrong.

http://www.sinfiction.co.uk/

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Aloric – Who?

“Who?”, the new single from Aloric, more or less defyies easy categorisation or explanation. It begins in an almighty, rumbling maelstrom, before the clouds part and an angelic falsetto breaks through. Above and below, a string arrangement frames the beautiful entreating vocals, before the rage returns at the last.

You can download “Who?” for free from Aloric’s Bandcamp page:

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Colder announces Many Colours, first new album in nearly ten years

After a nine year gap, unhurried darkwave artist Colder (Marc Nygen Tan) has announced the release of his third album. Due out on November 6th on Bataille Records, Many Colours is only the third full length release of a career that started back in 2002 with the release of debut album Again. A second album, Heat, followed in 2005, and the single “To The Music” in early 2006, followed by a lot of silence.

This year’s new material is as cool and distant as you’d expect, and gives off just the right level of whateverness to dust off and use a fancy word like insouciance.

Watch the video for Turn Your Back:

Watch the video for Midnight Fever:

Pass me a Gitanes.

Woodes x Elkkle – Flash Mob

Flash Mob is a slick, high-class taster ahead of the release of an EP by Melbourne collaborators Woodes and Elkkle. “I am perpetually falling” repeats Woodes over fractured sounds, accompanied in the video by the trails of outlines of ghostly shapes moving through darkness. The feeling is of being a moment behind, observing an echo of reality rather than reality itself, leaving your grasping at something that’s already passed.

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Keyes – Black Magic

Built around Jade Keywood’s glossy R&B-leaning hook, “Black Magic”, is a paean to the irresistible draw of a no-good lover, punctuated by fizzing synth motifs, rubbery percussion and sleek bass oscillations.

You might have seen recent publicity for a bit of research by McMaster University’s Digital Music Lab that put indie fans at the top of the tree when it comes to open-mindedness towards other genres. Pop fans, it was also observed, were the least curious. There are two important things to note about this research.

Firstly, if we take “pop” as a de facto default setting for music listening habits – ie assume that most people start out listening to pop music – we shouldn’t be at all surprised to find pop fans at the bottom of the pile. Not many people gravitate towards pop after a lifetime of experimentation, desperately searching for their holy grail. (“Eureka! The weekly top 40 countdown is exactly what I’ve been looking for!”). Equally, some people like a bit of pop but aren’t actually all that into music in general. Calling them closed-minded seems a bit mean, frankly.

Secondly, it’s a good result as far as keeping the peace goes. Indie fans are happy to be told they’re great and it’s important to them that they have managed to beat off the competition. Once again they have been proved right, something which probably matters to them more than pop fans. Those pop fans meanwhile probably won’t even read the research summary because a) who cares? and b) hey, have you heard this great new single by Keyes?

Released earlier this week (24th August), “Black Magic” is the first single proper from 18 year-old Warwickshire singer-songwriter, Keyes, following the success of Veins, earlier in the year. While you’re here, why not listen to that one, too?

Greatness beckons.

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Reverend & The Makers – Makin’ Babies

Reverend and the Makers have announced a new video from their fifth (I know – have I been asleep all this time?) album Mirrors. Makin’ Babies follows Black Widow, the album’s first single proper; together the two set expectations for the album pretty high – Black Widow is the funkier of the two, Makin’ Babies the more playful. Coming in just shy of two minutes long it’s bright ‘n easy, and comes with heart-tugging melodies and strings and a romantic video to raise a smile on even the toughest of mornings.

Mirrors is out on Cooking Vinyl on October 9th. Pre-order from the band’s official website (link below), where you can also find details of the band’s upcoming Winter tour.

http://www.reverendmakers.com/
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Shakes – Hole in your Pocket

Hole in Your Pocket is the debut single from Shakes – a new five-piece formed by five New Zealand friends who decided to “make music from the sounds that most inspire them: fuzzy guitars, beat-era bass lines and classic rock n’ roll drums”. Mission accomplished I’d say, mixing timeless ringing guitars and occasional and heavy distortion to perfect measure.

“Hole In Your Pocket” was mixed by Steven Schram (San Cisco) & Mastered by Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, The Shins, The Black Keys). The band are currently hard at work on an EP, which will hopefully materialise later this year.

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Wildling – Heart of Gold

Within a few short months covering the tail end of 2014 and the start of 2015, Wildling went from making their first live performance to headline slots to appearing at SXSW showcases. Next thing, they’re recording a debut EP in Bob Clearmountain’s Apogee recording studio. A lot of thought, dedication and hard work had led Wildling to this place: where they go from here is as yet unknown.

That debut EP will be released in October. Ahead of it the first step on the rest of the band’s journey comes in the form of a cover of a Neil Young classic. A brave choice: Neil Young covers are not hard to find, neither these days are slowed, stripped back reboots of past glories. Wildling nail it.

You can download “Heart of Gold” free from the band’s website:

http://www.wildlingmusic.com/heartofgold

Tour Dates

You can catch Wildling on tour August and September, Supporting Hey Marseilles.

8/27 – Wenatchee, WA – Cafe Mela
8/28 – Yakima, WA – The Cave at Gilbert Cellers
8/29 – Eugene, OR – Cozmic Pizza
9/1 – Los Angeles, CA – Satellite
9/2 – San Francisco, CA – Brick + Mortar
9/3 – Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
9/4 – Portland, OR – Miss. Studios

http://wildlingmusic.com

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One more thing… you can also listen to “Heart of Gold” on Soundcloud: