Many people have asked me, “How do you discover all of these new bands?” Well, here is one is my little helpers.
There are many streaming platforms out there; Spotify, Soundcloud, Amazon Music and Deezer to name a selection, all of which have different takes on offering music to listeners. For me though, one of Spotify’s newest features has proven to be wonderful in discovering new music. Spotify Radio.
Admittedly a feature that initially irritated me, Spotify Radio will continue playing songs when you reach the end of the album or playlist that you were listening to. In place of the artist, Spotify will then play you related artists, or songs from the same or a similar genre. This feature first irritated me when I was driving. Due to my cars Bluetooth limitations, I wasn’t able to change the music using my car’s sound screen. I wanted to continue listening to the artist I had chosen. However, the radio feature doesn’t allow you to go back, and by skipping I was just delving further into Spotify’s chosen station.
As I was driving I eventually relented my skipping frenzy, and carried on my journey with the Spotify radio playing. To my surprise, when I actually listened, it turned out that Spotify new my tastes pretty well. Although I hadn’t heard the artists before, the songs I was listening to caught my attention. As soon as I was home and my car was safely parked, I quickly added them to my ‘liked songs’. The radio feature had me hooked.
I have since discovered so many new bands and breakout acts in the indie genre this way. The Howl & The Hum, Black Honey and The Rifles to name a few. I’m sure many of you, as I’ll admit I used to, will quickly grab your phone and turn off the Spotify radio feature as soon as it interrupts your listening and plays an unfamiliar artist. I must stress though, give this feature a chance. I know we’re all creatures of habit, but if you’re a music lover and want to discover new music, which I’m sure you do. Asides from going to gigs all the time, this feature can be extremely helpful in broadening your music horizons, without even having to leave the comfort of your home (or car). If you are listening to an artist for example, Spotify will also sprinkle in a few of their songs too, as the radio playing will be ‘Artist’s Radio’ or ‘Playlist’s Radio’. I know Spotify isn’t loved by some artists and bands that despair at its algorithms and rising power in the music industry, but from my small corner of the world I will be honest and say I am lover of the app. I’ve been using it since 2010, having tried both the free and premium plan. I’ll admit it’s a modern app that I cannot live without.
Spotify allows you access to millions of artists and has thousands of playlists on any genre you can think of. The app is fantastic for listening to almost any song you could possibly wish for. The platform is very user friendly and doesn’t cost a fortune either. By listening through Spotify, you have the ability to listen to songs without the commitment of having to buy an album or vinyl. If you hear an artist on Spotify and you end up loving them, then of course you will support them by buying their material and attending their gigs. As a try before you buy option though, I think Spotify really is the champion.
Next time you’re listening to your favourite album on Spotify, and the radio plays after it. Don’t skip it. You might be surprised by the amazing new music you discover.
Many of you I’m sure will be wondering why a certain someone wasn’t included in my recent blog post ‘5 of my Favourite Gigs From 2019’. Well, this is because I felt she was worthy of a post dedicated just to her. Phoebe Green is an artist that I personally adore, but asides from my love for her, there is no denying that she has quickly become a rising icon these past 12 months. Absolutely storming 2019 in the process. With a signing to Chess Club Records, 2 new singles, and a string of live shows under her belt. Phoebe Green has certainly made a name for herself. I wanted to celebrate this hugely successful year of hers and explain why Phoebe has taken the crown for 2019 in my eyes, and I’m sure many others’ too.
I’d like to introduce Phoebe Green as an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. Phoebe writes her material herself, and her songs are a reflection of her own existence. This open window into her life, is something to be treasured. A very honest and brave lyricist, who does not hide behind a persona on stage. What you see when Phoebe performs is raw and real, and for me this makes her very special. From a young age, Phoebe has been passionate about music, and this is shown in her lyrics, that reflect as much colour and character as her name and personality. Originally hailing from the small seaside town of Lytham, Phoebe has since moved to follow her music aspirations and is now based in Manchester.
2019 has seen Phoebe take on supporting tours with the likes of Sundara Karma and Swim Deep, and most recently play an arena show with The Courteeners in Manchester. Earlier this year, Phoebe also had her very own headline tour in collaboration with ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’. An organisation that takes the quiet element out of libraries and instead fills them with music of all genres, in locations across the UK. As a result, this meant that Phoebe’s first tour was set to be so incredibly unique. Of course, I was first in the queue to get tickets to attend one of the shows, with the closest to me being Coventry. Asides from Coventry, Phoebe also played at libraries in Huddersfield and Liverpool this past summer. From what I saw; a smaller venue, with a dedicated crowd of fans, allowed Phoebe to shine exquisitely on stage. If I’m being honest, it wouldn’t even be fair to label the shows as being gigs, in my opinion the performances and atmosphere were far more intricate and intimate than that.
In Coventry Central Library, the stage was nestled in amongst the book shelves. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and it suited Phoebe so well. I don’t think I stopped beaming from the moment I arrived.
The first band to take to the stage were Porridge Radio. I’d never seen them before, but as soon as their set started I was captivated. Lead singer Dana has an incredible voice. I remember being completely fascinated by her sound and style. The songs they performed were gorgeous. Thanks to this gig I became a huge fan of Porridge Radio. I’ve recently written about them in more detail, congratulating them on their signing with Secretly Canadian Records.
Phoebe’s entrance to the stage was reserved, but beautiful. The room was so quiet you couldn’t hear a pin drop, and in that moment I felt for her. You could see that it wasn’t necessarily nervousness, but more a process of adaptation that was taking place. When you’re used to singing in front of a rowdy crowd that are fuelled on beer, to then be placed in front of people who are all patiently waiting in a library just to listen you. As Phoebe admitted herself, it was a change. Certainly not the environment she is used to performing in, as I’m sure would be the case for many other bands and artists.
As Phoebe began her set and the words of ‘Maniac’ began to echo around the room, you could see any hesitations she may have had melt away for her, as she relaxed into her surroundings. Needless to say, her performance was completely mesmerising. Phoebe has such a talent for song writing, and coupled with her incredibly beautiful vocals, this makes for a sublime pairing. A slight presence, that blooms in song. Phoebe Green is a flower bud, that bursts into life under the sunshine of the spotlight. She is wonderous to hear and behold. I’m not ashamed to say that Phoebe’s music has accompanied me through some of my loneliest, sleepless nights. Her songs have been there for me when I’ve cried, when I’ve overthought situations, and when I’ve simply needed something to listen to. So, to see Phoebe performing on stage, merely metres away from me, was very surreal. Phoebe’s set that evening was better than I could have imagined, and I felt so emotional during and after her performance. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.
To explain a little more about Phoebe’s music itself. Her self-released album 02:00am is gorgeous, and the lyrical content is haunting. It will reverberate with anyone who has ever been hurt or has longed for love. Vocally, most of her songs on this album are delicate to begin with, but the choruses are so powerful. Her songs transfix listeners with lyrics that speak of the frailty of the heart and mind. Encased in Phoebe’s soft vocals are subject matters that are certainly not delicate, but instead incredibly real, and piercing as a result of this. Phoebe sings of hurt, deceit, lust and love. For example, on the opening track of that night ‘Maniac’, Phoebe does not shy away from how weak we can be made to feel when blindingly in love with the wrong person. In contrast ‘Watercolour Envy’ speaks of a woman scorned, and shows beautifully, just how powerfully we can react when wronged by those we hold dearest, especially when infidelity is involved. The sheer raw emotion conveyed in Phoebe’s songs showcase her talents incredibly well. After listening to this album in full, it may come as a surprise that Phoebe had written these songs at just 16 years of age.
I know that Phoebe will openly admit she is embarrassed by the content of this album now, from having written the lyrics at a young age. However, despite her uncertainty, I’d like to assure her that for any listener, her songs will always be so relatable and poignant. Although, I can understand why she does feel detached from them. I know if I too were to look back on past relationships, and in turn old feelings that were inscribed within song lyrics, I’m sure I would also suffer embarrassment. Still it needs to be said, Phoebe as an outsider looking in, your lyrics are stunning. 02:00am should always be an album that is celebrated and loved.
Phoebe Green made her long-awaited return to music in March of this year. Prior to this, 02:00am was released in 2016. Her long hiatus from recording music has certainly helped her to grow, with ‘Dreaming Of’ clearly reflecting this. A stand-out, stand up for yourself ballad; ‘Dreaming Of’ lyricises a strong, independent woman who refuses to be put down, and aims to break free from her relationship and escape from a condescending partner. Phoebe projects so beautifully the betrayal that so many of us face, when we come to the realisation that we are in an unloving relationship, which we certainly do not deserve to be in. I’m so pleased to say that the passionate delivery of this new debut single gained Phoebe instant recognition. Clash Music and Pitchfork had both written stunning articles on Phoebe’s success by the end of April, and later in the year Phoebe had an interview with music heavyweights NME.
Phoebe’s new single came hand in hand with her signing to Chess Club Records, who clearly saw her talent and ran with it. Chess Club Records are a well-established name in the music industry, currently home to indie superstars Sundara Karma and Billie Marten. Chess Club also initially started the careers of giants Mumford & Sons, who put out their first EP with the label. This shows the sheer scale of what they see in Phoebe.
As I mentioned earlier, this year really has been the making of Phoebe Green. Being signed with such an expansive label as Chess Club has opened many doors for her, all of which she has gladly walked through. Many supporting and headline tours have kept her schedule busy, along with various festival appearances. Before finally closing the year playing an arena show with The Courteeners, which is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly. However, Phoebe has remained modest throughout it all. Undoubtedly, one of the nicest people you could meet, Phoebe is so friendly and is genuinely such a kind-hearted person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her twice now. Initially following the gig in Coventry, I was over the moon to be able to speak to her, and more recently when she toured with Swim Deep at The Globe in Cardiff. Phoebe makes time for her fans and is so appreciative of everyone who speaks to her, and it’s these little sparks in her nature, that make her so wonderful. When I spoke to Phoebe after her set in Cardiff, she remembered when we spoke in Coventry. As a fan, that was so lovely and meant a lot to me. It proved to me that her fans obviously mean as much to her, as she does to us. Despite her clear musical talent, the lovely person that she is makes her all the more special.
I cannot wait for Phoebe to release her new album. As well as ‘Dreaming Of’ and her newest single ‘Easy Peeler’, which is equally as incredible and powerful in it’s emotional depth. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Phoebe perform two other new unreleased songs live. One I believe is called ‘A Song For Alex’ and the other is called ‘Double Vodka Lemonade’, which is my favourite. As soon as the album is released, it is without doubt that I will find myself writing about Phoebe again. But for now, I must congratulate Phoebe on the immense success that 2019 has brought her. It has been such a brilliant year for her, and she should be so proud of everything she has achieved.
I’m sure that 2020 will bring her even more happiness and success.
I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read my writing, and for appreciating the incredible bands and artists whom I write about. I wish you all lots of love, happiness and more wonderful music in 2020.
This album was released on Christmas Day. Before this, it was kept a total secret. There were none of the usual pre-album single releases, or marketing strategies to prepare us. We weren’t aware this was happening, until the tweet came through on the bands page and the album was available to stream online. What a present it was.
The surprise element sent fans into melt down, and there was no denying the buzz around this album. So many questions teemed about it from not only fans, but names in the music industry too I’m sure. The release was a completely wonderful surprise. As it was Christmas Day though, I struggled to find a moments peace to listen to the album in full. On Boxing Day morning, I seized my chance. I listened to the album in its entirety, twice for good measure. My first impression? Honestly, it’s just stunning.
This new album has stripped Blaenavon back to their roots entirely. Recorded mainly just using a piano and an acoustic guitar. It consists of pure, raw, emotional lyrics that encapsulate singer Ben’s struggle with anxiety and depression. The album speaks of pain and hurt, but also of recovery and redemption. It’s a stunning vocal outlet of emotion and feeling, gift wrapped in gorgeous piano playing and acoustic melodies.
Stand out favourites for me are ‘Michael’, ‘slow down, cyclist’ and ‘write it down’. I just love how real and simply recorded these songs are. I don’t think I can gush about this album more. The way they’ve left dialogue in from where they’ve conducted the recording session, the emotional conversations, the odd bursts of laughter. It doesn’t appear to me that there were any forced retakes, any attempts at utter perfection. This album is perfect simply as it is. Blaenavon. Ben. Honestly this album is a masterpiece, and you should be very, very proud of it.
The songs are extremely touching and truthful. Whether there is intense meaning behind them, or whether they are simply the produce of a recording whim on the spot. The fact they leave the listener guessing and to draw on their own conclusions is magical in itself. For me, this album isn’t one that necessary needs to be understood and dissected lyric for lyric, as I have seen people calling for. It just needs to be listened to. It’s beautiful.
“What happens when you listen to one version of something so much that when it’s properly recorded it’s difficult to accept.”