Beauty in the Night – Seatraffic

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Just a sneaky little post this – stumbled across these Seatraffic chaps and rather enjoyed. Apparently their album Beauty in the Night is due to be released soon here in the UK despite the fact that its already available on Bandcamp and presumably out in the States

A chirpy duo of Mark Zannad (keys and vocals) and Brandon Harrison (drums) are out of San Francisco and tag themselves ‘dream pop low-fi synth’ which should pretty much get you there.

I imagine there is quite a bit of Beach House in their playlist but you can’t blame them for that. The vocals are smooth and sultry, the keys suitably glitzy and bouncy, the drums well, they do the drum thing quite nicely thank you, and so all in all a very enjoyable, dare I say sexy, little set.

Lead off track Man on the Coast is a pretty neat way to start and so thats why its tacked on below. A propos of nothing at all, I can’t help liking a band that posts the same picture of themselves riding bikes but in different weather settings on the same road – don’t know why, I just found that rather endearing…. probably just me then…

 

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Seven Billion Like You – All This Noise

All This NoiseI can’t lie, its always a bit of a thrill when a band gets in touch directly rather than through their PR, and even if sometimes the music might be a bit meh, or not really my cup of tea, such moments are always erased when you hit Play and, Lo, there’s summat a bit nice.

So, All This Noise, aka James and Alan Noise, is a little two-some resulting from, what I assume, was frustration of playing session on others so-so music. Not a bad place to start and I think that Alan Noise takes care of producer, engineer, programmer and bass player duties with James Noise delivering the guitar and vocals.

With a bit of 80’s era electro, 90’s indie and some contemporary bleeps and whistles their music so far seems to rather cunningly span the decades. It brings to mind a number of things, like a twang of early Depeche Mode here and a glimpse of The The there; however this is no mere pastiche or a smashing together of a few styles.

It is a rather beautifully produced concoction (well the two tracks so far available at any rate), with some fine guitar and excellent vocals to the fore, deftly underpinned by the electronica and bass work. The musical ability and experience shine through as does the maturity to know that sometimes you must let tracks have the time to build and not just to go straight for the jugular. Short and sharp can be fine but surely we have the time and inclination to let things grow and develop, its something I appreciate personally, and in my view its been nicely judged on these two tracks.

Seven Billion Like You seems set for release as a single at the end of January, I believe an accompanying video might be in production as well. The Return is also available on their Soundcloud page and I think is my favourite of the two tracks. Writing and recording for more stuff to form an album is also muted though no release date is, perhaps understandably, mentioned. Dear Heart Tom Robinson saw fit to lead off his December Mixtape with a cut down version of Seven Billion… so someone is listening up its good to note.

A couple of plays find these, immediately enticing, tracks dig under your skin and get their hooks in. I’ve been buzzing them for a day or so now and have come to love these genre-defying, epoch-leaping little rascals. Messrs James and Alan Noise are onto something here and I for one am looking forward to a few more tracks, don’t leave it too long chaps!

 

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Tied – Sun Drift

sun driftWhat a perfect thing to stumble across on this miserable Friday afternoon. Tied, this debut EP/mini album or whatever from the un-seasonably named Sun Drift came out at the back end of last year but its never too late to find a good thing.

The achingly young Zac Barfoot, for it is he, who is responsible for this little slice of deliciousness, has popped out five entirely gorgeous tracks with a polish and maturity that belies his tender years (annoying, isn’t it?). Written, played, recorded, mixed all on his own-some at home – gah , clever kids!

Amazingly accomplished; the lush and fine guitar work, the layered dreamy vocals and harmonies should all be product of warmer climes, rolling down the Pacific Highway or lazing in a high altitude meadow. But apparently the same can be the product of Silverdale in Lancashire, who would have thought it?

In his scant online information, Barfoot clearly lays out his influences and of course you find them here – but thats no crime, and especially when it results in such a totally delightful wee set as Tied.

This impeccable and elegant first outing is quite the thing, wrapping around me and shutting out the howling gale outside. Couldn’t wish for a better Friday accidental find.

 

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Barıştık Mı’ (Barış Demirel) – T.E.A.R.

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Its the New Year and everything is a bit drear and downcast. Amid those promises to curb the Christmas excess and cut back on all the fun things, a part of me has been hoping for something to become excited about, put the sparkle back, and here it is, the quite astounding debut album, T.E.A.R. from young Turk Barış Demirel trading under Barıştık Mı’.

Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and, most of all, trumpet player Barış has produced a quite remarkable 45 minute slab of music. At times familiar, at others exotic, weaving together traditional Middle Eastern and Turkish Makams with the avant garde, the jazz inspired and shoe-gaze, breeds a heady mixture of the most intoxicating and beguiling music I have heard for some while. Something to be excited about, to return to and find new insights, sounds that demand attention but repays with jewelled musical moments. A veritable treasure trove of unexpected and uplifting delights.

Everything here is a joy; the guitar put through pedals and effects, the voice used  as an instrument in its own right, the drone-inflected keys but, oh, the trumpet! I had quite forgotten how affecting an expertly played trumpet can be, haunting, ethereal almost human. Others like the amazing Cuong Vu have this gift, as did indeed Chuck Mangione with his trademark flugelhorn.

Almost every one of the six tracks here is a style unto itself but yet the set hangs together with a remarkable identity and quality, defying any usual characterisation or pigeon-holing. A thoroughly absorbing experience, you can play the album through his Soundcloud site or better still buy it from iTunes as I cant work out whether or how you can purchase an artefact from the We Play label.

A single track can’t be fully representative here, but the cover of Sigur Ros’ Bíum Bíum Bambaló is no bad place to start, but do start, it’s a journey so worth the travelling.

My grateful thanks to the perennially wonderful Gold Flake Paint for the heads up

 

 

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Captivated – Memory Drawings

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Its been a long old week but what better to help wind down than a bit of hammered dulcimer. Not a regular feature of much music perhaps but there should be a place for it in all our lives.

This absorbing and enticing EP from Memory Drawings is a thing of beauty. It has a couple of reworked tracks from the recent There is No Perfect Place album, but they sit around the aptly titled track, ‘Captivated’.

Joel  Hanson and chums are joined here by Yvonne Bruner on some spacey vocals redolent of the Cocteau Twins, and the dulcimer  propels this infectious track along  like a soundtrack to a summers day in the country. I am quite hooked I have to say, hugely comforting and soothing, sometimes bizarrely with a hint of the dreamy warmth of some early Sam Prekop solo material.

Captivated, the EP is released on December 1st, digital only via their (or is hat ‘his’?) Bandcamp site – toddle off and buy a copy now.

Memory Drawings are part of the most excellent roster of Hibernate Records, another fearsome and wonderful label holding out for what they love and believe in, whose artists we should all support. Lecture over.

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Small Tales – Accents

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Some very kind people send me links to various bands and artists looking for a mention, a few words, a retweet or whatever it takes in this age of global corporate shebang to get some exposure.

Oft times these ‘indie’ labels are just affiliates of some crushing international label but sometimes they are from the real deal, like the poke I got from the wonderful Deep Elm (more of them later) about Albany, NY funsters, Accents.

Small Tales is a five track follow up to their full album Tall Tales building on their theme of insecurities and how, no matter how old you get, they still bug the life out of you (I think might have left the PR-script trail here, hope I am on the right lines!). But worry not, this is not some collection of angst-ridden, bedroom-doom nonsense for, Lo! here’s a band that can play and sing (TJ Foster has a fine pair of lungs indeed), and feel as though they have their own distinct path; huzzah for a bit of authenticity!

photo_561The five tracks here all have that same combination of americana, a whiff of old skool English folk (despite being determinedly US), a healthy bit of indie-style punch (especially in the guitar department) some spot on harmonies staying firmly the right side of cloying and some lovely Decemberist-esqe story telling. So a bit American, a bit British and more than a bit good…

Now Deep Elm. Hurry you along to their web site to browse their rather eclectic portfolio of bands – here is a proper indie label par excellence, and whats more right now you can grab any of their albums on a name-your-price basis. A label of passion and conviction, relying on the quality of its artists and their music and not a bunch of over-hyped puff, this is the stuff we all should support. If there is nothing here that excites you then presumably you have already passed to the other side….why not start the exploration with Accents and their fabby new Ep and rather splendid back catalogue?

 

 

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Adam Holmes at the Convent Club

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It had been a heck of a week but as the Convent Club is but a hop skip and a jump away and there were two tickets with our names on, off we went despite our lethargy, and how glad we were that we did.

Scotch in hand and propped up in the side pews of the stunning Chapel venue at the Convent we had an evening of two remarkable voices – the main talent Adam Holmes and his band the Embers, and to open the proceedings, a short set from Paul Gilbody (more of him anon).

Mr Holmes has quite a voice for one still so stubbornly young. It of course has the Caledonian twang I find so irresistible, a bit of gravel in there that suggests more disappointments than he can have yet experienced, and a little whiff of soul for good measure.

The set had a good smattering of tracks from his debut album from earlier this year, Heirs and Graces, but one or two penned by others, such as the beautifully delivered Loretta written by Townes van Zandt, both an influence and a hero one suspects.

The Embers are no slouches either, including fine work by Paul Gilbody on guitar and Alex Hunter on bass. But live, as on the album (produced by the inestimable John Wood of John Martyn and  Nick Drake fame) it is the voice that is the star and rightly takes centre stage.

IMG_1931It was another equally impressive voice that kicked the evening off. Paul Gilbody, who’s pedigree working with other such as Alex Cornish, is impressive, but tonight we had four songs from him: Untwined, Sisyphus, Best Friend and Magnets Have Souls. I would have enjoyed a longer set but hey ho another name to add to the ‘watch’ list and hope an EP pops out sooner rather than later.

It is only right to mention the Chapel at The Convent as an outstanding venue; not just the gothic surroundings but the exceptional sound and care used in producing evenings like this and their streamed counterparts. Hats off to Matt and Charlotte for providing us such (as yet slightly under-recognised) opportunities.

But it was an evening for the voice, that most emotional of instruments and two fine exponents, here’s hoping they remember where to find us now and come back again soon

 

 

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