Release Alerts | Spring 2019

Gabrielle Aplin – Nothing Really Matters

Gabrielle Aplin Nothing Really Matters

See the beautiful acoustic video for “Nothing Really Matters” here. What might originally sound like a reckless, youthful ballad, Aplin’s honesty in “I don’t why, I’m scared of forever” makes this tune actively empowering rather than a carefree anthem.

Orla Gartland – Flatline

Orla Gartland FlatlinePatreon supporters of Orla Gartland will be familiar with her writing process and will have heard “Flatline” a couple of years ago. Lyrics such as “in the half-light, we were glorious” are exemplary of Garltand’s ability to turn feel good pop into relatable but heart-wrenching melancholia.

Lauren Aquilina – Tobacco In My Sheets

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Having recently returned to the realm of releasing her own music with single sassy yet confessional “Psycho”, Aquilina has come back to pop with a vast backlog of songwriting experience. This is a level of rawness that the younger Lauren touched on in “King” and “Irrelevant”. But rather than writing about loneliness and abandonment in abstract terms, in “Tobacco In My Sheets”, Aquilina confesses to her mother about how “I’m starting to scare myself”.

Tom Rosenthal – Spring

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Rosenthal’s “Spring” is a hopeful pop-folk tune, made utilising a bit more synth and drums than some of his previous more acoustic work.

“It’s gonna be spring one day, some day, and we’re gonna be homely”

Other recommendations

  • Tame Impala – Borderline
  • Cage the Elephant – Social Cues
  • Novo Amor – I Make Sparks

James Blake – Assume Form | Review

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James Blake’s Assume Form is his fourth studio album, released on 18 January 2019. Somehow, Blake has managed to produce an album that is more upbeat than his last, but radically more vulnerable than anything else he has ever written.


Blake blends hip hop, high production, and pop, in his destruction of the masculinity/ vulnerability dichotomy, in twelve songs. Blake writes of the song, “I’m just talking about how I feel now” (James Blake: Learning to Share, Dazed). Yet, lyrics such as “Power On”‘s “I thought I might be better dead, but I was wrong” are both a reflection on the past and a conviction on the future.

“Power On” is undoubtedly the strongest track on the album with lyrics such as “drop the pin on the mood that you’re in”. The album brings together collaborations with artists from different genres and languages to reside in moments of mindfulness, speaking directly on these moods and feelings. Although the album is directly romantic, it’s somewhat spiritual in its commentary on time and the self.

In “I’ll Come Too”, the more surreal and dream-like tones of “I’m in that kinda mood” make us realise the absurdity of love. Echoing rhythms and transcendental modulations represent infatuation, and a certain kind of desperation in catching up to the extremes of somebody else’s existence: “I’m getting there, I can get there too”.

“Can’t Believe The Way We Flow” is a track more overtly belonging in the pop genre, yet speaks volumes on absence and loss. Blake articulates a fear of losing a part of yourself in “Nothing makes a sound/ When you’re not around”. This fear is human, romantic, and pitiful at the same time.

The album’s concluding track, “Lullaby For My Insomniac” sounds like something out of a Michel Gondry film. In the sense that it is both romantic, and a reflection on what being grounded means, it acts as an electronic response to Newton Faulkner’s “Lullaby” from 2007. It is choral and angelic, as if the raw residue of the rest of the electronic album has seemed into this closing track.


Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

Villagers @ Black Box, Galway | 13/12/18 | Review

Following the release of their most recent album The Art of Pretending to Swim in September 2018, Villagers have been playing non-stop. Miraculously, there wasn’t a sense of exhaustion from their November 2018 European Tour seeping into their show at the Black Box in Galway. The crowd fuelled their wild dynamics of both acoustic and synth. The band’s latest album includes a taste of electronica and rock amongst maintaining the usual folk-like lyrics and guitar patterns. This show wasn’t just a performance of an experimental album – this set was built off of the reciprocal relationship between audience and band, driving each other to new capacities.

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Villagers’ performance of “Again”, the opening song on their new album, mixed synth, techno, bird noises, and gave the impression of elevating into a new dimension. The lyrics, “I feel it ripple and ready its soul again” make us question whether “it” is music, the artist, the audience itself, or a zest of huamnity. Within the one song, the audience was dancing, swaying, or shocked into silence at any different moment in the song.

Another standout performance was that of Darling Arithmetic‘s “Hot, Scary Summer”, leading the audience through pain, awkwardness, and ultimately reassurance. “Courage” was performed in a similarly raw and acoustic style, building in huge dynamics to a dramatic climax in the final chorus.

The strongest performance of a new song was undoubtedly in “Ada”, a homage to Ada Lovelace, fading into an amazing electronic soundscape at the end of the song to mimic the fantasticalness but also confusion that a technologically developing world brings. The Black Box performance was one of both tenderness and techno, lyrics remaining simple yet poignant. The drummer drove the band from folk to rock across the performance of the band’s variety of albums, with his multitalented musicality carrying over to performances on the flugelhorn.

O’Brien himself picked up the horn at the end of the set; the set’s conclusion was, unsurprisingly, {Awayland}’s “Nothing Arrived”. There was a sense of uncertainty amongst the audience as to how this dynamic and vivacious set could possibly be concluded by a well-known and sensitive acoustic song. The song was performed humbly, focusing on the guitar fingerpicking and the tender lyrics. Yet, it built on O’Brien’s raw lyrics through the use of harmonies and the respectful accompaniment of the band, and finally, through an incredible brass performance, raising hope and radiating musicality through the audience.


More from Villagers’ 2018 album, The Art of Pretending to Swim


Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

Ghost Motel – Hush| review

Ghost Motel are a dark indie band formed by Patrick Huven. Their debut single, “Hush” was released on 23/11/18 through a record label that Huven himself established, entitled Wolfwater Records.

Lyrics “help me I feel so broken” are reminiscent of 00’s American punk. The music video reflects this, showing the band’s dark, earthy performance, with flashes of purples and reds. There is a stark contrast in the music video between interior and exterior, as reflected in the lyrics, “a shadow beneath my skin”.

The synth in “Hush” is what makes it original. The track crosses the boundaries of punk and indie rock, creating a ghostly but gritty sound, reflected in the dream-like aesthetic of the accompanying music video.

Ghost Motel Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GhostMotelOfficial/

Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

Maria Kelly & All The Luck In The World | Róisín Dubh | 14/11/18 | Review

Maria Kelly 

Maria Kelly’s set was beautifully eerie whilst gaining the attention and support of the intimate crowd in the Róisín. Kelly’s song “Dark Places” provided a somber opening to the set, the haunting music video for which can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMhcI5LEXAg

Dark Places goes hand in hand with Kelly’s song “Small Talk”, a revealing melody based on the struggles of social anxiety. To conclude the humble set, Kelly performed “June”, “July”, and “August” from her upcoming EP, Notes to Self. The EP was written following Kelly’s move to Berlin, and is a reflection on change, alienation, and movement. June’s “I lay on my back, I stare at the ceiling” establishes the tone of vulnerability and uncertainty present through all three songs, and the progression of finding oneself was performed beautifully in this set.

Continue reading “Maria Kelly & All The Luck In The World | Róisín Dubh | 14/11/18 | Review”

oh sleep – try to rest | EP Review

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Florian Sczensny (releasing music under “oh sleep” since 2017) has created a new EP, to be self-released on 12/10/18, entitled “try to rest”. This breakthrough artist utilises dulcet acoustic tones reminiscent of “flatsound”, lofi production paired with skillful mastering, and acoustic/ indie vibes, sounding rough around the edges, but successfully raw and emotional.


The new EP features four tracks, the first of which is entitled “why did you have to leave us behind”. The track develops into ethereal and emotional layers. The echoing vocals remind us of echoing memories, and resemble that of an early Ben Howard’s sorrowful realism. The acoustic guitar loop that the track opens with is very much in the style of Mitch Welling (flatsound)’s early EPs.

The following track, “numbers”  is accompanied by an existential but colourful music video. The layering of the sound tracks mimics the struggle between technology and humanity depicted in the song, and the internal struggle between night and day. The anonymity described in the haunting lyrics is not comforting but one that evokes fear. We don’t know whether “lean towards the light” encourages us to return to the safety of our technological devices, or if we must search onward for answers.

The eponymous track “try to rest” is ambient and again derives from the experience of existence. This heavenly acoustic tone is continued in the final song on the EP, “mm/dd/yyyy”, which also represents a return to the opening track with the consistency of the guitar chord progression, and the building dynamics.

This EP pays homage to lofi indie, acoustic and punk artists of the early 2010s but also looks toward something fresh and exciting about the incorporation of raw emotional lyrics into a well-mastered, sorrowful, and cyclical collection of songs.

★★★


See more of oh sleep on social media, to keep updated with the release of “try to rest”:

www.facebook.com/ohsleepmusic
www.instagram.com/ohsleep_
www.twitter.com/ohsleep_
www.patreon.com/ohsleep www.soundcloud.com/ohsleep


Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

Hozier – Nina Cried Power EP | Review

Hozier’s EP “Nina Cried Power” was released last week on 6 September 2018.

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In an interview with Billboard, Hozier makes a stand for the soul and origin of blues – “There is no blues music without one of the most horrendous atrocities of human trafficking in the last few centuries.” Hozier Interview Billboard

The title track indeed evokes rebirth in the face of disaster and oppression. Mavis Staples’ vocals on the track bring force to the record’s sentiment. The opening lyrics “it’s not the waking, it’s the rising” establish the tone for Hozier’s new era as one of both delicacy and defiance. The Bray singer tweeted that working with Staples on the track was “nothing short of a dream come true” (Twitter).

The EP pays homage not only to the strength of grassroots civil rights movements, but also to tenderness and power within love. “NFWMB” is vulnerable but also powerful and a little sinister. Its celestial, acoustic, fingerpicked guitar melody is underpinned by the piano’s dulcet’s chords.

“If I was born as a blackthorn three

I’d wanna be felled by you, held by you”

“Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” continues this duality of a love-song and political statement. The lyrics dwell on the pleasures of physical love but also defiance against the Catholic church. Musically, it is almost an upbeat sister song to first album’s “To Be Alone”.

“Shrike”‘s confession, “I couldn’t utter my love when it counted”, is also politically charged. The imagery of the bird and the thorn is one of flight and return, and of the necessity of the unsightly. It is a song of both attachment and ambition, and of the desire for rebirth.


Hozier writes in the description of his new music video that, “Ireland has undergone a socio-cultural sea change, the results of which will benefit generations to come”. The video, released on 12 September 2018 is a subtle nod of admiration to Irish artists and activists. For information on those involved in the video can be found here: Music Video Cast

This EP is one of regeneration – for Hozier, for Ireland, for blues.

 

★★★★★

Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer | Review

Josh Tillman, aka “Father John Misty” has produced another romantic yet satirical masterpiece. God’s Favourite Customer is a departure from sing-along acoustic ballads, and a move toward truly heartbreaking, but at times hilarious, folk.

The opening track to the album, “Hangout at the Gallows” demands the listeners’ self-awareness, with “What’s your politics/ What’s your religion?”. Father John wants us to know that they’ll let you drown if your answer is wrong. Yet, since the track is followed by the funny, bourgeois, self-deprecating Mr. Tillman, the album’s tone is not one of self-righteousness and pitying those following one path. It is instead one of confusion and the consciousness of failure.

“Just Dumb Enough To Try” is the first really vulnerable track on the album, reminiscent of “Nancy From Now On” from 2012’s Fear Fun. The track is confessional, personal and transparent, and divergent from Tillman’s usually acerbic tone.

Meanwhile, “Date Night” is a return to portraying the discomfort of arrogance and failure. Using a similar chord pattern to Mr. Tillman, the song perfectly portrays the self-accepted awkwardness of romantic endeavour:

Nothing impresses me much
I’ve got a great attitude
And a map to the stars

Tillman seems to utilise a different and vaguely dislikeable character in each song. In “The Palace” the character we are encouraged to mistrust is “my true love”, who seems to have our protagonist entangled in their snare. The discordant, melancholic bass notes in the background affirm this desolation.

Empire writes that “God’s Favorite Customer turns away from the human condition <https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jun/03/father-john-misty-live-review-dublin-gods-favorite-customer&gt;. This is evident in the eponymous track “God’s Favourite Customer”, where the speaker employs angels to answer his prayers by speaking in an accusatory and desperate tone.
The album does not conclude, however, on a tone of desperation or arrogance, but one of guilt, with “The Songwriter” and “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)”. In “The Songwriter”, Tillman asks if his partner would make their living off of him, questioning his own status as a romantically struggling yet candid songwriter, and the morality of this; is loving Tillman an “unsung masterpiece” of dedication in itself?

Frances Wilde
franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk
+353 83 043 9326

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino | Review

The new Arctic Monkeys album of May 2018 has shocked many, and disappointed others. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino has elements of jazz, soul, The Last Shadow Puppets, Bowie, The Beach Boys, LA, and Sheffield – undeniably a strange combination.


The album opens with “Star Treatment”, a lengthy track focusing on somewhat stream of consciousness lyrics. The opening, “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes/ Now look at the mess you made me make” is confessional, apologetic, honest, and hilarious. The honesty of this cynical sci-fi narrator establishes the tone of the album as otherworldly. The track lies somewhere between ethereal and futuristic. The standard AM writing method of jamming on guitars clearly didn’t work for the writing of this album:

We definitely had a great time, but it didn’t seem like that was the way to do [the new album], and I needed to find a way to trick myself into it.”
<http://www.nme.com/news/music/alex-turner-arctic-monkeys-new-album-tranquility-base-hotel-casino-writers-block-interview-2312690#XIzkiCMyKicYpJbe.99&gt;

The alternative jazz-like riff and the basis of each track as surrounding the piano’s melody give the album an originality which is established in “Star Treatment”.

A personal favourite track of mine is “One Point Perspective”. The focus on rhythm and minor chord progressions, yet light-hearted jading of middle-aged men who ramble on about film and music, creates a sense of playfulness yet sourness. This track is very reminiscent of almost any track on the Puppets’ 2016 album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect. 

“American Sports” and “Science Fiction” utilise a thick synth bass, affirming a new era for the band. Although the album is described as “not a concept album, “Science Fiction” confirms the alternate universe that each track and each character is set in. In this fictional “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”, each bridge and chorus seems to introduce a new character to the world.

This is affirmed in the layering of “Four Out of Five”, evident in the bizarre music video, too. This track is arrogant; harmonious in the layers of “take it easy for a little while” in a way that is reminiscent of Pet Sounds; and somewhere between pastiching commerciality and discordance. This discordance is continued in “Golden Trunks”, probably the most politically charged song off the album.

In “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip”, the lyric “you push the button and we’ll do the rest” is taken from an old Kodak commercial. Rather than critiquing this commerciality, consumerist promise, and a generation of social media, the track pays homage to inexplicability of this sci-fi world.

“She Looks Like Fun” is reminiscent of “Bad Habits” or even the older Puppets song “I Don’t Like You Anymore”. It is grungy but playful, a little dark, and a track that is made to perform. The performative quality of this song is opposite to that of “The Ultracheese”. “The Ultracheese”, in my mind, is easily partnered with “Sweet Dreams, TN”, from EYCTE. The album is not just a commentary on platonic relationships, romanticism, but more about accepting the death of something, allowing a phase and a version of yourself to pass. The imperfect cadence at the end of this track affirms the uncertainty.

This new album is a conscious move away from AM; it’s a necessary move away from the electric guitar, and maybe it’s a fatalistic departure from the indie-rock genre.


★★★★

Of course, Four Stars out of Five.


Frances Wilde
+353 83 043 9326
Business Inquiries: franceswilde@hotmail.co.uk

The Wombats – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life | Review

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“There’s still life in these Liverpudlian marsupials” (Thomas Smith, NME)

 

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The Wombats are back… with possibly their best album to date.

The album opens with what is a personal favourite of mine: “Cheetah Tongue”. This song features Tame Impala-esque surrealist lyrics, coupled with Strokes-like rock drum, bass and fingers clicks. The change of pace for the bridge truly ramps up the rock nature of the chorus, and sets the tone of the album as one of homage to indie-rock but also one of experimentation, with regards to psychedelic sounds.

“Turn” is an extremely accessible song for anybody interested in the independent British rock genre – using recognisable tropes of a developing beat, a reckless love song narrative, and intertextuality mentioning “listening to Drake at your best friend’s pool”. “White Eyes” is a similar modern song about infatuation, and uses a combination of modern overtones in the backing track, and classic rock guitar riffs, plus a fantastic build up to the final chorus.

Songs like “Dip You In Honey” give off not only a youthful and cheeky tone, but feature a discordant electric guitar very reminiscent of The Beatles. “I Only Wear Black” adds another tone of rock to the album and develops this kind of of off- tone quirky and somewhat solemn form of rock. This song is one you’ll hear in a dark but fantastically friendly dive bar in the near future.

 

Record Label: Kobalt Music Recordings

Tour Dates: http://thewombats.co.uk/home/