A strong selection this week and a lovely mix of genres and styles to boot. Our Listening Post favourites take us to Bristol, Wales, Manchester, Australia and back again – for your discerning ears only:
AL LEWIS – Lines Upon the Sand
There’s a gentleness to Al Lewis’ voice which evokes the unassuming effortlessness of some of the great folk troubadours. From North Wales and not one to shy away from singing in his native tongue, it’s no surprise that Al has fans in high places. With BBC airplay under his belt already and some good reviews, the only way is up for our Al.
EMPTY POOLS – Exploded View
Bristol’s Empty Pools are channeling a classic rock sound, not least because of Leah’s strong, ballsy vocal backed by some damn funky guitar and drum lines. TV talent shows make bland supposedly pitch perfect voices the norm in the mainstream. Leah has one of those that’s like a welcome relief on your ears – original, emotive and lyrics that get you thinking… or wandering.
FAIRCHILD REPUBLIC – Stay Young
Making waves in their homeland Australia, Fairchild Republic wear their influences proudly. They say they’re not interested in what is ‘cool’ now, but channel the likes of The Killers, U2 and REM. The band triumphantly played Australia’s Glastonbury equivalent Big Day Out this year and with their debut album poised for release it seems opportunities are endless for this young, determined band.
LAURENCE MADE ME CRY – The Rain Song
Jo Whitby is singer songwriter Laurence Made Me Cry. She’s from the West Country but is putting down musical roots now in Cardiff. Bristol was an inspiration but it wasn’t until Cardiff that Jo felt she could take her music out into the live scene, saying: “There’s such a positive attitude to music in Cardiff. You don’t feel judged and people are willing to get involved and help you out. I like that”. Jo has a lovely songwriting sensibility and voice, and is looking for help with her debut album, The Diary of Me, which you can help her out with at Sponsume.
LISA KNAPP – The Pleasant Month of May (GED FLOOD remix)
Folk singer-songwriter Lisa Knapp invited people to remix this simple track from her EP ‘Hunt The Hare – A Branch of May’. Ged Flood the musical arranger and brains behind the brilliant classical folk crossover outfit Mishaped Pearls got his hands on it and this is the result. Ged took this sparse, lilting folk tune and turned it into something altogether weighter, beefing it up with some unmistakable Ged guitar action too… lovely job by both.
MOUNT FABRIC – Curves and Corners
There’s a definite Thom Yorke-iness about the vocal from this Manchester band, and there’s a nice nod to the glitchier side of Radiohead as they blend indie guitars and electronica to create a soundscape bordering on the psychedelic. Very promising indeed.
PYLO – Enemies
A great voice from frontman Matt Aldus that lasso’s you straight into the song from the off. Add to that a rocking guitar riff and a rousing chorus, what more do you need? The Bristolians topped our poll and deservedly so. Gloomy, anthemic rock is IN. Didn’t you get the memo?
SILENT DEVICES – A Safer Place To Land
Josh, Scott, Alex and Charlie are from Leicester and have already been ‘tipped’ by all the right muso-types. I suppose these are the bands who’ve developed their musical style in the shadow of giants Snow Patrol and Elbow – ie instrumental interludes and then huge swelling chorus lines. However, unlike most of the try hards out there in musicland, these four have made a beautiful song. Raise the bar for the rest lads!
TEOTL EXPANSION – Pyrah
Nice to hear some piano-based experimental sounds on the Listening Post. But typically with this sort of artist I find little or no information about them online. A Facebook page was recently created where I gleaned that whoever Teotl is they’re from Hull and say they make glitched piano/IDM/modern classical progressions. Right on! A very happy discovery though, was the label Mola Mola Records out of East Yorkshire supporting ‘the weird and wonderful hidden acts’ of the county.
The Inner Banks from Brooklyn were a breath of fresh air for me on this week’s Listening Post. Caroline Schutz is on lead vocals and husband David Gould is on backing vocal duties and also plays a plethora of musical instruments – with various other musical friends roped in on violin and drums too. It’s upbeat, glorious indie-pop which in this age of doom and gloom I celebrate! They’re already on their third album, Wild, which out now on DAG! Records.