Indie Track of the Week – Sunflower Bean

Picked as one of my ‘Ones To Watch’ for 2016, Sunflower Bean are a New-York based trio who do not fit into a clear genre. Personally, I think this adds to their appeal, as they blend elements of darkness into their dreamy sound. While it is difficult to place them in a genre, they certainly have clear alternative 80s influences (think The Cure, The Sundays etc.)

Their debut album Human Ceremony is released on Friday (5th Feb) and they will tour the UK from next week. Their latest release from the album, also called ‘Human Ceremony’ is a perfect example of their gorgeous neo psychedelic sound. Along with singles such as ‘Easier Said’, Sunflower Bean are clearly a band to watch out for and I can’t wait to hear their debut album.

Track of the Week – NZCA Lines

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NZCA Lines’ main man is Michael Lovett and since the release of their debut album in 2012, Lovett has spent time touring with electronic-indie group Metronomy. For their second album Infinite Summer, released yesterday, Lovett has also been joined by Charlotte Hatherley (Bat For Lashes) and Sarah Jones (Hot Chip) and together they have created a very exciting sound. Described as a concept album, Infinite Summer is based around the idea of a futuristic Earth where the sun has hugely expanded and the end of humanity is imminent, but rather than descend into chaos the world has become one massive (and very warm) party.

This party vibe is evident with latest single ‘Two Hearts’, which I have become hooked on since it arrived in my eardrums earlier this week. If you’re a fan of Hot Chip or Daft Punk, you’re going to love it. I have chosen it as my Track of the Week for its fun and fresh futuristic disco sound and insanely catchy beat. And, if you like what you hear, why not have a listen to Infinite Summer?

 

Ones To Watch in 2016

Here are my picks of the bands and artists you should be listening to and watching out for this year. From indie to experimental synth, it looks as though it’s going to be yet another exciting year for new music.

Black Honey

Indie rock dripping in nostalgia with Lana Del Rey-esque sultry vocals. ‘Madonna’ is just one example of their incredibly stylish sounding repertoire so far.

Pumarosa

Atmospheric, hypnotic, captivating – Pumarosa’s debut single ‘Priestess’ (no. 3 in my tracks of 2015) immediately highlighted them as ones to watch. With only 2 other demos online I can’t wait to see what else they have in store.

The Big Moon

Perfect indie – tight, unpretentious, fun and oh so catchy. These girls have been supporting The Maccabees on tour, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more from them soon. (Also this video is amazing).

White

Infectious indie pop with seriously funky vibes. Glasgow’s White have already released some hugely catchy tracks and their latest single ‘Living Fiction’ is no exception.

Sunflower Bean

Gorgeous psych-rock with alternative 80s vibes. Their latest single ‘Easier Said’ is irresistible and their debut album is expected next month.

The Japanese House

Perfect late night music from the alter-ego of 19 year old Amber Bain; full of experimental, 80s inspired synth-pop and androgynous vocals. Just listen to ‘Clean’ – pure bliss.

Blossoms

Arguably this year’s Catfish & the Bottlemen, Blossoms’ unapologetic indie pop is full of influences from Abba to Arctic Monkeys. ‘Charlemagne’ is a great example of their classic indie sound.

 

If these tracks are anything to go by, 2016 is going to be a very exciting year for new music!

David Bowie – A Tribute

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When I saw the news this morning that David Bowie had died, I was absolutely shocked. This was the man who just a few days earlier had released his new album Blackstar on his 69th birthday and I had, rather naively, hoped that a new album could lead to the possibility of seeing him live on tour. Bowie was a true icon, a trailblazer and an innovator. He was one of a kind and his mastering of the art of reinvention, not to mention his influence, will never be matched.

I haven’t listened to every song that Bowie ever released and, at the age of 21, I didn’t experience the Bowie phenomenon in the 1970s first-hand. Instead, I discovered (and still am discovering) his music through his cultural legacy, my parents, curiosity, and through various film soundtracks from Frances Ha to Guardians of the Galaxy. I looked back on Bowie in the 70s and 80s in the same way that I do with multiple other artists from those eras, with that familiar feeling that I was born in the wrong decade and a slight sense of injustice, wondering why these kinds of artists don’t seem to exist today.

David Bowie created some amazing music – my personal favourites including ‘Young Americans’, ‘Rebel Rebel’ and ‘Fashion’. I remember seeing him as Ziggy Stardust when I was younger and thinking he was some kind of mythical creature. A key Bowie moment I remember was when, aged 16, I watched Cherie Currie come alive as she channelled Bowie in the film The Runaways, showing how Bowie taught many people that it was ok to be quirky, have different sides to yourself, be gender fluid and just to be yourself. That was the pivotal thing about Bowie, he never tried to fit in and by doing so he inspired others. Perhaps ironically, he was never in fashion because he had style, and style is timeless.

Two days before his death, Bowie had not only released a new album, but a bloody brilliant one at that: experimental, jazzy, unsettling, challenging and utterly unique. Aged 69, Bowie was still exciting and more importantly, fresh. Blackstar perfectly captures how Bowie was the king of reinvention and new sounds, but his music was always, undoubtedly, unique to him. His last single, ‘Lazarus’ which I chose as my track of the week at the start of the year, is an absolute masterpiece. In some ways it feels all the more tragic that Bowie has died in light of him releasing such progressive and wonderful music mere days before his death. Yet, the fact that ‘Lazarus’ was his last single is oddly beautiful and poignant, as he sings ‘Oh I’ll be free, Just like that bluebird.’

Goodbye, Starman. ☆

Indie Track of the Week – Blossoms

Blossoms are a five-piece band from Stockport who were announced as number 4 on the BBC Music Sound of 2016 poll earlier this week. They’ve already gained a following on the live circuit (performing at festivals such as SXSW) and many, myself included, have become enamoured with their hugely catchy indie-pop sound.

Blossoms’ music proudly incorporates pop influences into its more classic indie sound, with the band being just as influenced by ABBA as they are Arctic Monkeys. Their previous releases, such as ‘Charlemagne’ (which I chose as number 19 for my tracks of 2015) perfectly showcases this blend of genres and musical styles ranging from the 1960s to 1990s Oasis-era.

I was therefore very happy when Blossoms were announced as number 4 in the SO16 poll on Tuesday and even more so when they released new track ‘At Most A Kiss’ on the same day. A ridiculously catchy song, it’s arguably their biggest yet, and I hope it gives them the attention they deserve. As soon as I heard it I knew it had to be my track of the week.

Have a listen for yourselves:

Indie Track of the Week – David Bowie

bowie4215-616x3651David Bowie really is the king of reinvention. Having hit the big time in the late 1960s, his star power has continued to glow and on 8 January he will release his 25th studio album, Blackstar (on the same day as his 69th birthday).

I think we all have our favourite David Bowie era, for me it is probably Bowie in the early 80s, but while I love listening to earlier Bowie I must admit that his more recent music has slipped me by. However, his latest single ‘Lazarus’ really grabbed my attention and has made me very intrigued to hear his new album next week.

The second track to be revealed from his new album, ‘Lazarus’ has also been featured in Bowie’s recent New York stage production of the same name. It is a song full of woeful vocals over a slick, deep groove. The instrumental in the track is especially gorgeous and it demonstrates how progressive Bowie continues to be with his music. It’s weird and jazzy and I think, rather wonderful.

Have a listen for yourself: