Canadian indie-pop outfit Alvvays marked the announcement of their second album with this beauty of a first track. In Undertow is taken from the forthcoming LP Antisocialites which is out on 9 August.
The Toronto-based five-piece create a wonderful wall of sound, topped off with the sublime vocals of singer Molly Rankin and we can’t wait to hear more from the follow up to their self-titled debut album.
Alvvays – In Undertow
Summer tune alert! Out today, Never Gonna Be is the debut single from KVR – 17-year-old producer Koen Van Ravensberg (we see what he did there).
It’s a dance track that neatly fuses some of the core tried-and-trusted dance components with feel-good tropical pop. The vocals of Noréll singer Kaíva offers the finishing polish for a track that should, by rights, be getting a fair bit of radio airplay over the coming weeks.
KVR – Never Gonna Be (ft. Kaíva)
Your Boyfriend is a great piece of laid-back indie from London four-piece BLOXX. The group have been honing their sound and working on their debut EP since forming just over a year ago and the hard work is paying off, not least with an upcoming support slot for The Wombats‘ sold out Brixton Academy show on 30 June.
You can also catch them supporting The Night Cafe on various dates in May, including Birmingham (1 May), Oxford (2), London (3), Norwich (4), and Glasgow (25). Ticket links here.
BLOXX – Your Boyfriend
With less than a month until the release of their much-anticipated sixth album (Risk To Exist – out 23 April) and just over two years on from previous album Too Much Information, Maximo Park have revealed another track from the forthcoming LP. Get High (No, I Don’t) fits what we’ve heard so far, in that it marks a notable notch up once again for the North East indie icons.
The guys also head back out on the road to tour the new album, with a string of UK dates kicking off on 5 May – tickets here.
Maximo Park – Get High (No, I Don’t)
And while we’re about it, we can’t resist including the album’s title track here a) because it was very remiss of us not to include this when it came out a couple of months ago, and b) we think it marks a return to their very best form. And fuck it, let’s add a c) because we’re also astounded how singer Paul Smith still manages to look exactly the same as he did when A Certain Trigger came out circa 13 years ago. How he do that?!
Maximo Park – Risk To Exist
There’s no better way to start the week than with a track that has just the right balance to help get things moving. Away With Me is a cool collaboration between Toronto-based electronic trip Closely and Los Angeles duo Novelties, made up of Kelly Mylod and Sophie Noire.
Its tropical flavour brings the sunshine, whether or not you’re basking in the real thing wherever you are right now!
Closely / Novelties – Away With Me
Not sure quite how they manage it, but Fickle Friends have a knack for creating incredibly catchy pop hooks… and not just occasionally – they do it with pretty much every song they come up with.
We initially wondered how the Brighton band could ever beat the superb Swim or the equally adorable Cry Baby, but we think they might just have topped both with Hello Hello. Just take a listen and bask for a while in the sheer pop perfection of it all.
Fickle Friends – Hello Hello
Now it may be seem like an attempt at vying for the ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious award’ but Sync is very much not Kerrang! in terms of the music we tend to cover, which means that out of all the more heavily-inclined stuff out there, it has to take something pretty special from that genre to get us really excited. This is certainly special.
We’ve been tracking Scottish four-piece outfit Vukovi for a while now. Their energetic yet tuneful sound hooks you in, with vocalist Janine Shilstone providing the real point of differentiation from a lot of bands out there with her great range and powerful vocals.
Vukovi’s self-titled debut album (out today, 10/3) has been in the making for a while, and it’s clear that it has been a real labour of love. Its twelve songs are mostly spiky, upbeat affairs but this sometimes belies the multitude of themes at their heart, including topics such as individuality, drug abuse, depression and suicide. “The record might sound quirky,” says Shilstone. “But there are many darker notes in there…”
Tracks like Prey see Shilstone digging deep into personal experience (“It’s about a time in my life where I thought I’d met my knight in shining armor – but he fucked me up even more”) and the sublime I’m Wired, the singer’s favourite song on the record: “I wrote it trying to describe being in a relationship with severe depression and trying to express that you need that person even though you don’t show it most of the time.”
But the undoubted meaning and depth to the songs does not render this an overpowering or difficult listen – this is much more a collection of great songs which paint a picture of a creative, inventive band. There is a fun streak that runs throughout, with Bouncy Castle and especially Animal being our own favourites from the album, both cracking examples of pop-rock at its best. Their real quality shines though on the more subtle tracks such as Wander, in which the noise is tamed to reveal some accomplished, brilliantly written tunes. It’s the variation on this album that enables it to bust traditional genres… which is exactly how it should be.
The band starts a UK tour today in Glasgow (10 March), before rolling on to Leeds (11), Manchester (13), Bristol (14), London (16), Nottingham (18), and Aberdeen (19) – snaffle tickets here. If any of those fine cities are near you, head along and catch tracks from what is one of our albums of the year so far.
Bursting on to the scene at the start of this year with her huge song Glitter and Gloss, Swedish singer-songwriter Skott is experiencing a somewhat meteoric rise in profile. Plenty of radio airplay has brought her considerable talents to a wide audience, so it was no wonder that this gig at London’s small but beautifully formed Omeara venue near London Bridge sold out ages ago.
Her sound is ethereal and magical, yet amazingly powerful at the same time. Opening with the aforementioned Glitter and Gloss, Skott had to contend with technical issues to begin with, her in-ear monitors failing to work – not that it put her off her stride with the first song, which was as mesmerising as it was dramatic. Although she was clearly and understandably relieved when the problem was resolved.
What followed was a very short – just a little over 30 minutes – yet unforgettable set. What was so striking about her show was just how utterly accomplished she is, both in terms of stage presence and vocal performance. A particular stand-out was her 2016 single Porcelain, which is beautiful enough in its recorded form, but takes on a whole new level of feeling when heard live. Technically tough to sing, it was nevertheless delivered faultlessly, and anyone present who didn’t experience shivers during the song’s crescendo clearly has no soul!
Skott is a simply astounding vocalist with a massive future ahead of her. Don’t miss the next chance to see her for yourself when she returns to London for a show at Village Underground on 13 September. Tickets here.
We’ve been meaning to post this one for a while now. Not only does this all-female indie-pop three-piece deserve a prize for such a great band name – surely a radio DJ’s worst nightmare though – but this is a damn fine tune.
And you can catch Peaness live as they’re midway through a tour – dates are coming up in Manchester (7 March), Birmingham (11), Leicester (13) and their hometown Chester (23).
Peaness – Same Place
Don’t Bother Me is the latest track from one of a few prolific British artists whose output is of such quality and yet their profile remains inexplicably below the mainstream radar. We first saw Shakka – full name Shakka Philip – in a support slot for Rudimental back in 2013… he stuck in the memory not just because he lifted the roof off the place but for repeatedly making sure the crowd knew exactly who he was in between songs: “Shakka with 2 k’s, Shakka with 2 k’s…”. Many will also be familiar with his vocal appearance on Wretch 32‘s superb Blackout, and possibly some saw him touring with Basement Jaxx on their world tour in 2013/14.
Not only is Don’t Bother Me a slick tune guaranteed to get stuck in your head, but it further underlines the 27-year-old Londoner’s versatility – we still adore his wonderful radio-friendly (not remotely meant as an insult even though it might sound like one!) track When Will I See You Again? from a couple of years back which is totally different in so many respects. But we really don’t care what future directions he takes if he keeps coming up with material as good as this.
Shakka – Don’t Bother Me
Out on Friday 3 March, new single Halfway is from the forthcoming debut EP by Galway singer LAOISE (pronounced Leesha).
It’s a sleek piece of subtle electro-pop from the hotly-tipped Irish 20-year-old who grew up playing the violin and piano before teaching herself the guitar at 11 and progressing to writing her own songs aged 15. More recently adding an electronic edge to her sound, we’re looking forward to hearing a lot more from her this year.
LAOISE – Halfway
New from US band Spoon is Can I Sit Next To You, complete with slightly disturbing video.
With a slick, steady pace and an eerie synth-filled chorus, the track is the second to be taken from the band’s forthcoming album Hot Thoughts, due out on 17 March. Spoon will tour Europe in June, with UK dates in Manchester (27 June), Glasgow (28) and London (30).
Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You?
We’ve been in love with this track for a little while now. Crosby is the debut release by London-based British-American singer-songwriter Azusena, whose atmospheric sound and brooding vocals remind us a little of the genius that is Fiona Apple.
A debut album is in the works and slated for release later this year.
Azusena – Crosby
Now here’s a grower if ever there was one. Dirty Bass is new from LORIS, a three-piece, female-fronted electro-pop trio from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Part pop, part dance, this track is the latest release from a band that have been doing their thing since 2013, picking up plenty of favourable reviews through the likes of BBC Introducing and radio stations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
LORIS – Dirty Bass
Park Hotel are pitched as a ‘post-electronic dance band’ based in London. Comprised of the creative duo of Tim Abbey and Rebeca Marcos-Rosa, their music explores the territory between alternative electronica and slick disco songwriting. As a debut track, Gone As A Friend is a real statement of intent, laced with supercool boy/girl vocals and an inventive, addictive groove.
Live, their metropolitan disco-rock studio incarnation expands into a six-piece neo-funk band, featuring three-way vocal harmonies, two guitars, drums, percussion, keyboards – and cowbell. And if that sounds a little hard to imagine, you can see and hear it all for yourself in London next month at their show at The Victoria in Dalston, East London, on 14 March. Tickets here.
Park Hotel – Gone As A Friend