In the first of a series, Jack Enright showcases the most exciting new acts of the month.
In terms of new music, 2013 has certainly been fruitful thus far – the blogosphere has been blessed with a deluge of original and innovative new acts, more than could ever be condensed into this column.
Highly regarded London starlets Wolf Alice have been right at the forefront of this early activity, and have only enhanced their standing with the two seriously gorgeous numbers they are currently streaming over the net. Raucous, riff-heavy single Fluffy is the title track and certainly comes with plenty of fire and fight, but in terms of artistic depth it’s the more tender B-side that comes out the winner.
Taking their lead from The xx, White Leather combines delicately intertwined guitar melodies with ghostly, barely-there drum beats. The resulting atmosphere of understated melancholy provides the perfect canvas for Ellie Roswell’s heartfelt lyrics to paint us a poignant tale of unrequited love. “I bought a drink for you/but you were smoking with your friends outside” goes her longing refrain. These are not profound lyrics by any means, but they carry a universal appeal that makes them pertinent and touching to all. Fluffy is certainly worth snapping up.
Meanwhile, in the auspicious electro stronghold of, erm… Kent, soundscapers Team Morale have confirmed that their debut EP Forteana was released yesterday (18/2). The duo are currently streaming the preview track Aurora online, and if that’s anything to go by then we’re certainly in for a treat. The track boasts layer upon layer of hazy, sun-dappled synths, which combined with warm, echo-heavy drum lines create an idyllic sepia-snapshot of electronic heaven.
Elsewhere on the electronic scene, ethereal songstress Indiana has been quietly putting out a run of seriously impressive tracks. Her most recent offering, Bound sees sinister, almost Burial-esque production meet with her trademark hushed whispers and shrill, sultry cries. The morbid synth effects instil this track with a distinct aura of cold, industrial heartlessness, but this atmosphere is intriguingly juxtaposed with Indiana’s conversely delicate, emphatically human vocals.
The result is a track dripping with sexual tension and alive with the sinister, whilst still providing a bassline worthy of any dance floor. Indiana is quickly marking herself out as an artist that deserves your attention – make sure you do and you’re sure to be rewarded.
Operating in very much the same artistic vein is the Singapore-based duo Octover. Like Indiana, this two-piece are purveyors of seriously dark and foreboding electronica.
Whilst staying very much within the limits of the post-dubstep formula that has been so successfully championed the likes of Joker and James Blake, Octover have taken the same template and added a touch of soul and experimental R&B with beguiling results.
On perhaps the absolute opposite end of the musical spectrum, French indie-poppers Concrete Knives have been gearing up for the release of their debut album Be Your Own King, which came out yesterday. This Normandy-based five piece have little in the way of a back catalogue, but the handful of tracks currently scattered across the internet mark them out as an act worth keeping an eye on.
Their latest offering, Truth, is an irresistible, mid-paced folk-shuffle that playfully gambols into your subconscious, leaving you humming along to its addictive melody for hours after. The more forceful Greyhound Racing sees the addition of some meatier guitar hooks, along with a chorus that will make this track a favourite at live shows.
Perhaps the best way to describe the sound of Concrete Knives is to imagine a Mumford and Sons without the irritating “quaint English twee” affectation that pervades so much of what they do… Yes, Concrete Knives do sing-along indie-folk in much the same way, but it is done with much less pretension and a healthy dose of world-weary grit. These guys hit Norwich Arts Centre on 9 March, so if this is a recipe that appeals then be sure to catch them.
If you’ve been missing the unabashed “kitchen sink” pop of Lily Allen and Kate Nash then you need look no further. The excitement for new social-commentator-on-the-block Chloe Howl began bubbling up as early as a couple of months ago, but it’s recent release Rumour that’s put her firmly centre stage. Confident, self-assured delivery allied with insightful and incisive lyrics mean that Howl is definitely one to watch from now on.