We’ve recently been enjoying the soothing sounds of Marika Hackman to help us carry on through these grueling winter months. Fans of Laura Marling, Joni Mitchell et al pay special attention as we think Marika Hackman is going to be one of the next major players in the folk scene. Her music, like many of her predecessors boasts a sense of maturity and knowledge well past what one may expect of a girl her age with intelligent and emotive lyricism accompanying very well developed guitar playing. Her talents don’t stop there, she can also play the piano, drums, bass, accordion, maracas, spoons…. The list goes on.
2012 saw Marika Hackman play a variety of venues across the UK, supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich before taking off on a solo tour to see the year out. What’s more, she has recently announced a spring tour. You can catch her at London’s Sebright Arms on 6th March, bag yourself tickets to see this starlet here!
Matthew Siskin’s musical alter ego Gambles is a creation full of intrigue and mystery. So far, we’ve heard only one song of his, Trust a moody and rather harrowing acoustic track featuring deep, almost cracked vocals that reference faded love and trust. A very recent addition to his Soundcloud features his latest offering, another powerfully gloomy track, this time a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong.
This is heartfelt music, similar to the likes of recent startlet Eddi front, Gambles conveys a sense of atmosphere and powerful emotion through his sounds and although we’ve only heard a teaser of what’s to come from the New Yorker, we are going to be keeping a keen eye on Gambles in the coming weeks.
Forget Brooklyn, LA or London for a moment, Colour the Atlas have recently emerged thus pinning Swindon on the musical map. Four friends join together to bring us another instalment of folky goodness, with clear influences from the likes of Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and in particular, Angus and Julia Stone with lead male/female vocals that sit at the forefront of acoustic guitar and gentle percussion.
After a successful UK tour playing with a variety of bands from Karima Francis to Newton Faulkner, Colour the Atlas released their first self-titled EP into the world back in November on Ugly Truth. While we wait for their debut album, why not listen to their track The Maker off their EP below. We promise you’ll come out the other side feeling relaxed.
New Yorkers, Guards, have released the second single from their forthcoming album, ‘In Guards We Trust’. The three-piece boasts Richie Follin on lead vocals, the brother of Cults’ Madeline Follin. Do they have the formula for great tunes running through their veins in that family?
These guys certainly know how to craft a whopping great tune. The new track, 'Coming True’, is a monstrously catchy anthem which is impossible to shake off. It flies into its massive chorus with jangley guitars, infectious riffs and stadium-style vocals setting the pace along the way. The indie outfit are making music that will fill up festival slots and pack out arenas in the way that Tribes and The Vaccines have done recently.
20-year-old Morgan Holliger’s musical alter ego goes by the name of Pretty Heart. The unsigned Ohio resident creates from her bedroom base and has just released the video for her new single, 'Toy'.
Her chosen moniker gives an indication as to the sound of her songs. Her gentle, feminine vocals float and fly over a landscape of digital haze. The beats grow from beneath and swell as her voice peaks and soars. There’s an obvious reference to Bat For Lashes, with every so often Holliger’s voice reaching the realms of The Jezabels.
'Toy' is a grand introduction to Pretty Heart who clearly holds great potential to wow us in the coming months. The mesmerizing single is available for a free download from her bandcamp page.
Brighton boys, The Wytches, only formed in November 2011 but the young band have already made a hefty impression on us with their self-described “surf doom”.
The single, 'Digsaw', is dark, fuzzy and sounds absolutely enormous. The grungy undertones are tinted with psychedelia and drenched in dirty noise. Their sound takes influence from the likes of Nirvana, The Horrors and new favourites, Temples. 'Digsaw' is the lead track of the band’s 2 song EP of the same name which was released towards the end of last year.
The Wytches have a run of live dates coming up and we heartily recommend getting along to one of their shows as their performances are hypnotic. The boys will play hometown gigs in Brighton on the 27th and 31st January and will grace London with their presence on the 9th and 12th February.
After the release of his debut album Dear earlier this year, Keaton Henson has himself remained quiet and hidden away. His heart-wrenching fear and dislike of being put in the spotlight hasn’t diminished his popularity and fame however, if anything it’s added even more mystique and appeal to the twenty-four year old from the suburbs of London.
But these times they are a-changing, and Keaton is back with not only his second album, Birthdays, scheduled for release next month, but a full UK museum tour where, much like some kind of rare animal might appear once a year in some special kind of evolutionary ritual, Keaton Henson will be appearing briefly to play a number of intimate gigs.
Listening to the bushy-bearded, artist/turned musician’s recent track ‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us?’ which features on his forthcoming album as well as being the title track of his most recent EP, it is clear Keaton Henson hasn’t found a great deal of happiness since his debut, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Well musically that is. His lyrics are still beautifully emotive, they wobble and fall delicately over his reverb-laden guitar, fans of Bright Eyes and Jeff Buckley pay special attention.
You can catch a rare sighting of Keaton on February 18th at London’s Freud Museum.
Oaklahoma based band Tallows have emerged just when we were thinking 2012 had closed its doors for the Christmas holidays, ready to open afresh in January 2013.
With only two tracks currently out as demos, the pleasantly uplifting ‘Soft Water’ combines a vocally driven, mellow verse with an epic, high-paced, guitar-driven chorus, and similarly, the second track, ‘Small Talk’ plays on contrasts, with melodic xylophones ringing out lazily one minute and massive, charging guitar chords tearing across the song the next. What Tallows do well, or so we can tell in their two offerings so far, is balance perfectly between the mellow and the massive.
With 2013 rapidly approaching, a whole new musical year, we look forward to hearing more from Tallows in the weeks to come!
Mr Gnome, unlike the name may suggest, is made up of husband Sam Meister and wife Nicole Barille, who hail from Cleveland, Ohio although they like to think of themselves as a ‘homeless’ band who ‘enjoy sleeping on random people’s couches’. They cite their interests as ‘time travel, porn, beer, liquor, marijuana’ to name just a few. And their sound, much like their interests, is experimental, loud, abrasive and psychedelic, mixing indie rock with metal and punk elements, sweet, wavering female vocals with crashing drums and abrasive guitars.
Since their conception in 2005, Mr Gnome have released two 7” and three full length LP’s, with their most recent offering, ‘Madness In Miniature’ brought out last year. Have a listen to standout track ‘House of Circles’ below for a psychedelic and energetic insight into the band’s psyche.
Native are a band, we tour a lot’ this is all the information given away by the band’s Facebook page! In fact they’ve been touring internationally since mid November and they’ve played a show every single night since. Looking back at some of their shows, they’ve played some interesting ones too, alongside the likes of Lady Gaga and Beyonce at Summer Sonic in Japan as well as playing an exciting slot at Midpoint Music Festival with Caribou, Best Coast and Villagers.
Native is made up of four friends who came together in Indiana before attracting the attention of US Label Sargent House who also deal with This Town Needs Guns and Fang Island alongside a number of exciting acts. Their sound can be compared to Minus The Bear, with powerful distortion, explosive varying drumming and energetic, aggressive vocals.
Apparently their live shows are unmissable too, with their performances carrying even more energy than the studio recordings of their tracks, and with over 271 gigs played in the last few years according to their Songkick profile, it seems they’ve had enough time to perfect their shows. They play a handful of gigs in Europe before heading back to the States, check the band’s Facebook page to find out where.
Check out this beautiful track from Spanish artist, DESERT. Frontwoman Cristina Checa, mysteriously broke away from previous project Granit after just one EP release with Alba Blasi. However all is not lost as from the ashes of one, rises the life of another. This time in the form of the stunning DESERT.
The single, Camins, is a spell-binding dream pop number. It floats through a hazy, elegant dreamlike space with pretty Catalonian lyrics from Checa fluttering across. Though a dreamy number, it still has bounce and enough flare to get a gentle groove going. The obvious similarity is to Cocteau Twins perhaps with a hint of Hundred Waters just touching upon it.
The singer describes the track as her “way to the light” song. We only hope that whatever it was that led to the creation of this track, this well-lit place will offer more beautiful material of this gorgeous standard.
NO are an American pop/rock outfit out of Echo Park in LA. The un-Googleable band only formed in 2011 but they got their heads down and released their ‘Don’t Worry You’ll Be Here Forever' EP earlier this year.
The immediate and unavoidable comparison of the band’s sound is instantly to The National. The gloomy, baritone vocals are uncannily similar to those of Matt Berninger, so much so, it’s easy to forget that it’s not actually The National playing. There are also elements of NO that suggest likenesses to big name pop rock stars like The Killers, Interpol and The Gaslight Anthem, which can only be a whopping great compliment to the young band.
Despite the inevitable copycat criticisms, NO are stand-alone good. The tracks off the EP all sound like radio-ready tunes that could resonate around packed-out stadiums. The band have mastered catchy choruses and finished it off with a polished production.
The Ghost Wolves are a fiery duo who hail from Texas and have been touring the states relentlessly over the part year. The pair released their debut album in 2011 which sees sassy frontwoman, Carley Wolf, on guitar and vocals and powerhouse Jonny Konya on drums.
The band recently released their single ‘Getchya Hip Thrust’. The heavy, guitar-driven track is laced with sexy, playful vocals and satisfyingly doused in a rock ‘n’ roll spirit.
Their back-story is a fascinating tale. Singer, Carley Wolf, grew up on a wolf-hybrid ranch where her father has been breeding the dogs for 30 years. One night of stargazing ended with a heavy fog setting in and bizarrely led the frontwoman to allegedly witness the spirit of their recently-deceased wolf upon the hill top. The reaction from the existing wolfpack confirmed her beliefs over her vision and the bandname was found.
The Ghost Wolves will be continuing to play live around Texas and the States in the Spring.
Mirel Wagner is an Ethiopian-born doom-folk singer who grew up in Finland. The 24-year-old writes heartbreaking and dark music, armed with just her acoustic guitar. The story goes that the singer penned the opening track of her début album when she was just 16.
Wagner’s music is certainly not chirpy. It’s hardened and well-worn sounding, as though the weight of the world has battered her spirit. It’s this air of defeat which leads her to create such heart-wrenching songs. There’s an emptiness that fills the record, with nothing but coarse vocals and a finger-plucked guitar, it feels almost hollow. But it’s within this space that the emotion pours out and encompasses it. Somehow the haunted gloominess of Mirel Wagner’s voice becomes completely entrancing and the sentiment beneath her lyrics taunts curiosity. “Death comes a sneaking in through the keyholes, he’s clever and he knows what’s beneath the floorboards” she groans on ‘No Death’.
Earlier this month the singer supported First Aid Kit in Helsinki and she previously opened for Deerhoof in New York.
Now don’t get confused, there are a couple of bands called Embers on the scene at the moment. There’s a four-piece metal outfit from California and there’s also our spine-tingling, amazing-doesn’t-do-them-justice Band of the Day choice. They may have chosen the same moniker but that’s about the only artistic similarity these guys have between them. Our Embers are four lads out of Manchester who only formed last year but the sounds they make have set our ears well and truly on fire.
The moody, atmospheric opening of the stunning single, ‘Hollow Cage’, gradually builds with a dark piano riff, gentle cello and haunting Halls-sounding vocals. The sweet release is freed by the tension-breaking drums and the choir’s backing vocals echoing the engrossing words of singer, George Agan. The track is awoken and becomes magnificently grand, it’s captivating and impossible to remain unaffected by, it shimmers and grows until the evocative energy elevates it entirely. Embers have videos for their other incredible tracks too, check out the beautiful ‘Sins Unknown’, ‘Days Turn Into Weeks’, ‘Part of the Echoes' and 'Tunnel Vision’.
Watch the stunning set the band filmed at Manchester’s Gorton Monastry. It reflects every mesmerizing element of their sound and the audio/visual combination is hypnotic. Embers have excited a lot of people (not to mention ignited our love affair with them) and it’s no wonder with the quality of their work. The band have already supported Torches, Halls and Esben and the Witch and are destined for a scorching 2013.
'THE CANNES OF THE MUSIC WORLD'
--Steve Lamacq BBC 6 Music