Expanding on their impressive indie sound. Latest single ‘Early Dreamer’ sees Cardiff-based Twin Stranger introduce a refreshing twist on the genre, with a reflective and brooding, yet melodic breakaway track. As waves of psychedelic rock and power pop burst through, creating music that is both vibrant and immersive.
Opening lyrics battle the ever-tempting pull between saint and sinner, with lead Alex McConnachie enthralling us in the story of ‘Early Dreamer’. Interwoven among cool crisp guitars, and percussion hooks that latch onto its ever so catchy chorus. The single feels hypnotic and transportive, whilst lyrically able to explore the daily grind that everyday life can entail.
‘Early Dreamer’ really puts a spotlight on the fascinating capabilities that Twin Stranger have, to delve into such open and meaningful lyrics. Whilst maintaining a music style so uplifting, it scorches us with rays of hypothetical sunshine. This glorious contrast is often unseen at such an early stage in a band’s career, giving listeners an intriguing unique perspective, fuelling the momentum of what Twin Stranger are all about.
Placing emphasis on strong artistic collaboration from start to finish. McConnachie describes how Twin Stranger passionately craft every aspect of their music to perfection, including its artwork:
“The artwork for each release and visual aspect of things is very important, Joe comes up with a concept usually in the form of a little drawing or painting. It really feels like we’re building up to something.”
Building up to something, they certainly are. With ‘Early Dreamer’ affirming Twin Stranger as the up-and-coming band that you will certainly want to keep your eyes and ears on throughout 2021.
Hopes of an EP release are surely on the horizon, as this latest single continues on paving the road to success for Twin Stranger. Arriving off the back of a string of sublime singles, that firmly cemented their foundations in 2020. Anthemic debut ‘Tears of Joy’ was closely followed by summertime scorcher ‘Crushed’, preceded by the cathartic ‘White’ mid-year. All of which received high praise locally, and even gained the four-piece oversees exposure from US radio stations KROQ and SiriusFM. It is beyond inspiring that what initially began as a bedroom project for McConnachie, has grown to become so much more.
Twin Stranger are Alex McConnachie (Vocals), Joe Tobin (Synth/Guitar), Eric Karvik (Drums) and Josh Newington (Bass).
Stream ‘Early Dreamer’ on all platforms now via Rose Parade Record Co.
Despite the unprecedented challenges that 2020 has brought upon music, I have been incredibly inspired by the continued efforts of musicians and the entire industry. Those who have dedicated so much of themselves to creating. Doing all that they can to bring joy, in the darkest of times.
To celebrate their unwavering determination, I am so pleased to share with you, a list of 5 of my favourite EPs from this year.
Rosehip Teahouse ‘Chillin in the Void’
Wrapped in serenity and sweetness, Rosehip Teahouse’s first EP of 2020 quite literally transports its listeners away to another realm. From the softest twinkles of synths, to dreamy lullaby vocals from lead singer Faye Rogers. ‘Chillin in the Void’ is a completely mesmerising offering from the Cardiff-quintet. In tune with both music and emotion, Rosehip Teahouse infuse gentle instruments against tender lyrics. Enabling them to create a blend of indie-pop, that is poignant, but oh so pleasant. Yet, if one EP wasn’t enough, swiftly following ‘Chillin in the Void’ was latest EP ‘Fine’, another gorgeous slice of music goodness from Rosehip Teahouse.
Bursting with all of the brilliant enthusiasm and flamboyance that we have grown to expect from Cardiff’s Buzzzard Buzzard Buzzard.‘The Non-Stop EP’ is home to seventies power struts and a cool retro vibe. Certainly a delight to discover during a rather desolate year. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard have a keen sense of embracing music from the past, but ensure they bring it bang up to date, with their own unique twist. Dancing with modern-day politics and an unabashed jest. We groove from the fun Double Denim Hop to the satirical quips of Hollywood Actors. With ‘The Non Stop EP’ catapulting this rising band headfirst into the spotlight.
Hauntingly beautiful, Manchester musician Lindsay Munroe entrances through debut EP ‘Our Heaviness’. Set against the backdrop of a rigid religious past, Munroe bestows her anguish in gorgeous confession. Pairing eerily muted vocals with a beguiling soundscape, ‘Our Heaviness’ is an EP bearing tracks that latch onto their listeners, and resonate within our very core. With Munroe evoking such a bold honesty, her music is profoundly moving, particularly the track Split. There is a captivating literary-feel present throughout her songwriting, that implores us to pry deeper into her inner-psyche. Proving that Munroe is not only a wonderful musician, but a fascinating muse.
London-based Talk Show have been acquiring a stirring buzz around their music for some time now. From a reputation for fearsomely frantic live shows, to brooding new single releases. 2020 saw the band present their highly anticipated EP ‘These People’. Boasting brash anger and unwavering lyricism, ‘These People’ is in full grasp of its gritty sound. Frontman Harrison Swann, an intoxicating enigma, standing centre stage among a band who channel all of their energy into these fast-paced, unforgettable anthems – look no further than Petrol Head, if you need clarification. Dominating a sinister charm, Talk Show rouse an indescribable impulse, dragging listeners kicking and screaming toward their addictively fierce new breed of punk.
Bittersweet and bold, Phoebe Green portrays the delirious intimacies of a corroding relationship on latest EP ‘I Can’t Cry For You’. Taking the listener on a hypnotic thrill ride, Green rebounds from the hard-driven indie of Golden Girl, to the distorted psychedelia in Grit. Unhinging senses and pushing the boundaries of every comfort zone, on her lyrically bruising but brilliant EP. Awakening a new persona, Green glows with flame-orange hair and a witty humour. As ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ bares a musician not afraid to toy with our inner-most thoughts and feelings.
2020 has seen Phoebe Green literally “Reinvent” herself. From a striking new single in July, to her current EP release. The Manchester based singer-songwriter has awoken a new persona, and she is certainly not one to be messed with. Possessing flame orange hair, and a dark witty humour, Green is flourishing. All while raining a glorious revenge down on whoever wronged her. As her latest EP ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ stands bold, beautiful and brilliant. Green is turning heads, and it is clear to hear why.
Each track on the EP delivers an unwavering frank lyricism. Echoing a similar approach from her 2016 album ‘02:00am’, yet Green appears scorned on this latest release, and there is no denying the reflection of that within her music. ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ is a phenomenal depiction of a decaying relationship, captivating the listener throughout. On opening track Reinvent, Green adopts a dark and brooding vocal approach. Bittersweet as it meanders through a turbulent scenario, exploring the self-identity struggles that arise when this finally ends. Instruments are kept low and biting, adding to the moody ambience that builds throughout. We feel this intensity deepen further on Grit. With Green’s vocals descending to an almost delirious, hazy lull. The entire atmosphere becomes unnerving, conveying the deranged feelings that can often accompany a narcissistic relationship.
Switching the tempo back up on Golden Girl, Green’s familiar light-hearted vocals return. An upbeat, but direct track. Golden Girl snipes at its subject, as though Green is directly addressing a disgruntled ex-lover. With a fierce femme approach, Green asserts herself beautifully. Standing out as an ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ anthem for getting over someone. Closing the EP is final track A World I Forgot, another hypnotic psychedelic indulgence from the indie musician. Matching the vibrant orange and green splatters that adorn the EP’s cover art. Green sways between hardened indie power-pop and swirling psychedelia, instantaneously. Highlighting the emotional and psychological challenges, that can be inflicted by a chaotic lifestyle and undeserving lovers.
Whether it is through a satirical swirl of synth, or the clout of a full band. Green’s vocals shine, wherever she lends her voice. With an ever-growing confidence, ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ has seen Phoebe Green soar.
We wait with bated breath, to marvel at the heights a sophomore album will soon take her.
Stream ‘I Can’t Cry For You’ on all platforms now via Chess Club Records
Cradling tender emotion in the palm of their hands, is a skill that Cardiff indie-pop band Rosehip Teahouse have completely perfected. Boasting a back catalogue of gorgeously cathartic music. Latest EP ‘Fine’ merges old and new tracks, entwining memories, thoughts and feelings into just shy of a blissful 15 minutes.
Swooning vocals from lead singer Faye Rogers glide ever so delicately across a soundscape of lightly placed instruments. Twinkling keyboards shimmer among a subtle pop of synths. While guitars nip, and drums dance, adding just enough grandeur to collate that “full band” sound. Rosehip Teahouse carefully ensure their blend of instruments is not overpowering, but instead provide a sound that is wholesome and pleasant to the palate.
It is a delight to rediscover gems such as ‘No Gloom’ and ‘Summer Sleep’ from very early demo recordings, alongside new singles ‘I Meant What I Said’, ‘A Million Times’ and ‘I’m Not Whole’. We hear a progression in songwriting style as Rosehip Teahouse have grown, yet cherish the emotions forever present within their music. Embodying such poignant pleasure, from their very conception as a band.
Of Rosehip Teahouse’s latest EP, Faye expresses; “The fine EP is a collection of moments that span from 2016 to now. They cover love, losing love, fighting an eating disorder that wanted to take me over completely, my unregulated emotions, dreams (both literal and metaphorical) finding some sort of meaning amongst it all and coming out the other side, slightly stronger as a result of it. A lot of the songs are re-arrangements of the very earliest Rosehip demos and it’s been really cathartic and really special to let them free with the help of the rest of the band. I hope people can relate to the songs, give them a home for a bit and feel at least a little supported in the struggles we all have staying grounded in this overwhelming world.”
‘Fine’ is without doubt, another firm favourite, more than capable of capturing hearts and bottling heartbreak. Exquisite in its fragile delivery of unwavering lyrics, Rosehip Teahouse share a true depiction of our innermost self-doubts and worries. Swathed within the most beautiful music.
Stream ‘Fine’ on all platforms now via Big Indie Records
This year has seenHorizons’ most diverse selection to date, with a record number of female and black musicians awarded funding. Putting a spotlight on the exciting growth of MOBO (music of black origin) throughout Wales.
Musicians from a range of genres have received funding to aid their career development.
If you’re unfamiliar with Horizons and the work they do. Horizons are a Welsh music collective, formed from a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales. Focused on supporting Welsh musicians, producers and record labels. Horizons have an active presence on social media, and are advocates for Welsh talent. Investing, supporting, and providing a platform for music in our country to grow.
The Horizons Launchpad established in 2014, has so far helped to support more than 200 Welsh artists, in over 60 towns. Providing £210,000 worth of funding, to pay for the for likes of studio time, music equipment, promotion of releases and a multitude of projects, for the musicians selected each year.
During an extremely tough year for music as a whole. Horizons Launchpad have awarded £40,000 in total, between a mix of musicians, taking the crucial next steps in their careers. Welsh record labels High Grade Grooves (Caernarfon), Recordiau Jingcal (Cardiff) and Something Out of Nothing (Cardiff) also received funding, as Horizons deepened its support of grassroots, who foster and provide a platform for emerging talent.
Deciding which lucky applicants are chosen to receive funding, is a panel of 25 experts from across the Welsh music industry. Made up of musicians, DJs, industry representatives, radio presenters, PR, bloggers, and many more!
This year, I was given the incredible opportunity to be a part of the Horizons Launchpad Panel
Being on the launchpad panel for 2020 has been such a rewarding experience. It was amazing to see a number of applicants that were so passionate about developing their music careers. Showcasing such an innovative flair, while remaining considerate of the implications of COVID-19.
I was moved by musicians who took the DIY approach in hand, and yearned to create something otherworldly. Whether it was recognising the importance of social media self-promotion, or thinking about utilising the skills of Welsh freelancers to help with their creations. Music from all genres are bursting out of Wales, and it is clear to hear the love for music, that every single person who applied has!
The most treasured part of the process for me, was seeing the sheer determination that everyone applying possessed. It’s no secret that 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges to music, but the passion and creativity of so many of YOU, is just completely inspiring.
I want to say a huge congratulations to every artist or label awarded funding, and also a massive well done to everyone who had taken the time to apply to the Horizons Launchpad. You’ve all done yourselves, and Welsh music, extremely proud!
Horizons will be celebrating this years Launchpad Results with a multi-platform virtual festival, highlighting the new artists!
Infusing tender romantic blues with light guitar work. Pascxl (pronounced Pascal) creates an atmospheric soundscape of acoustic pop, that simmers against deep vocal hues. Latest single ‘The Moon Is Not Enough’ is a woefully tender love song, that pairs longing lyrics with a soothing sound. Perhaps a subtle nod to baroque pop. The track dreams of crushing melancholy moments, with slight echoes of jazz adding a subtle jolt to wake us back up again.
Caressing and rousing in equal measures. Pascxl cleverly combines blushing indie-pop with a splash of lo-fi magic, to create music reminiscent of a canvass of stars, lighting up the nights sky. Both innovative and alluring, Pascxl self-records and produces tracks from a garden shed studio setup. With an inspiring DIY approach, met by a profound passion for music. There is such an indescribable charm, surrounding this mysterious musician.
Perfecting a delicate balance of heartbreak to self-assurance. On latest track ‘The Moon Is Not Enough’, Pascxl strings along lovelorn lyrics, to enchant any listener. Whilst remaining unwavering, bold and beautiful, rooted by an underlying vocal strength, as romantic notions glide effortlessly throughout the track.
Setting a sultry atmosphere, the song is a story, as much as it is sound. A captivating collaboration of music and lyrics, setting a scene to cradle us back to those memories of long lost lovers, that we had kept locked away in our hearts, until now.
Allow yourself to be transported away, within Pascxl’s otherworldly track ‘The Moon Is Not Enough’. Bathed in aching lyrical romance, gentle rhythmic acoustics and tantalising pops of percussion. It is a lo-fi gem, just yearning to shine. Crafted by the tender vocal and musical talent, of multi-instrumentalist Pascxl. A very promising muse, who is certain to capture the hearts of anyone who hears their music.
Stream ‘The Moon Is Not Enough’ on all platforms now
As Cardiff continues to produce an array of exciting and talented musicians. Meet Static Inc. A three-piece alternative rock group, who are crossing borders not only musically, but also where language is concerned.
Combining both English and native Welsh within their debut track. Latest single ‘Tangelo’ is enriched by its varied blend of tongue, adding an interesting perspective. Lines interchange their language seamlessly, meaning verses are coolly multi-lingual, in an effortless transition.
Often musicians sing in just one language during a track, but to hear two very different languages laced together in such a way, is a breath of fresh air. Despite drawing on lyrics that are solemn and moody. The gritty realness that exudes from this debut is refreshing, as Static Inc place heart and personal experience within their music.
Based on a bedrock of rumbling alt-rock. Static Inc build truly expansive music, as they progress through their multi-layered track. Standing at an impressive seven minutes, ‘Tangelo’ is segmented with upbeat, catchy guitar solos, that schmooze against fizzing drums. Musical correlations flow from one part to the next, and motions are fluid-like within this rock-operatic daydream.
Varying sections create a single that is digestible and easy to listen to. Even with its lengthy playtime, ‘Tangelo’ never falters. Faint hums of influence spark from Queen’s 6-minute ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’, with similar styles that only deepen in intensity as the minutes progress.
As a strong instrumental closure brings ‘Tangelo’ to its crescendo. Drums clash with an industrial fury and guitars pulse along in a medley of sound. Incorporating an entirely different style, when compared to the multi-lingual lyrical moodiness of the opening few minutes. These purely playful 4 minutes, allow for such a profound instrumental pitch, that charges the track with a new lease of energy.
Static Inc are clearly a budding new band, out to prove that language is certainly no barrier when it comes to music. All whilst harnessing a unique and intriguing sound. Capable of telling a story entirely its own, without the use of any words at all.
Music thuds through the walls, and the building shakes from the blaring pulse of the speakers. As doors fly open, and countless people weave in through the darkness. The packed-out gig is hot and humid. Filled with laughter and noise, beer and chanting. Livelier than any stadium, a wall-to-wall show at Fuel promises to please. The band on stage certainly do not disappoint. Gritty guitar work, blaring vocals, and clashing drums engulf the room, delighting the eagerly awaiting crowd.
An atmosphere that is surely engrained within heavy metal band SouthBound, who celebrated the release of their debut EP ‘Even Angels Sin’, to a packed-out show at Cardiff’s Fuel Nightclub in January. Determined not to let lockdown deter their spirits, the band have been working hard on creating their sophomore release. Proudly presenting, latest single ‘Bermuda’ to the world.
A gritty guitar anthem, you can really sink your teeth into. ‘Bermuda’ roars with feminine ferocity. Lead vocalist Megan Jenkins sets the tone, as ravaging guitars and drums whir around her. Choosing to keep pitches low and biting to begin with, the band allude to that sinister tension, building throughout their music.
Providing sublime guitar pitches, substantial enough to satisfy any rock n’ roll fan. Classic influence from giants such as Slipknot, Slayer and Avenged Sevenfold are clear to be heard, and evoke this bands hungry desire. Resulting in the grungy, alternative soundscape that charges ‘Bermuda’.
Rooted within the heart of the Welsh Valleys, a passion for music runs deep in the veins of SouthBound. There is such resonating energy present, that rings clear through their music. Instruments are pushed to breaking-point, with a fearless style of playing. Vocals are steeped in Megan’s rich Welsh accent. It is these bold touches of home, that push SouthBound forward in Cardiff’s metal scene, and ‘Bermuda’ is certainly a promising catapult.
Sultry and slow burning. Delve into the intoxicating confessions of Vienna-based musician Fleming, through latest single Guilt and Pleasure. Led by a seductive blend of electronic percussion, mixed by Grammy nominated producer ill Factor. Slinky piano keys glide against drawn-out guitars, to brood among ambient atmospheric vocal pitches. There is an undeniable sleek, professionalism present. So authoritative and impactful, we are swept off our feet.
Exploring the experience of a simultaneously playful and powerful relationship. Guilt and Pleasure mirrors its musical intensities, as exquisitely as its lyrical prowess. By style and sound, we are captivated within this rousing contemporary track. Submerging soft R&B with soulful, modern blues. Fleming exudes energy similar to the late-great Prince, with a slant in sound towards Childish Gambino or Steve Lacy.
Guilt and Pleasure is a soundscape that fizzes with a passionate, eloquent vibrance. Lyrically entangled in the reckless lust of youth, yet rooted in nostalgic 1970s notes. Fleming chimes “Just take me back to the hotel room, and let me love you” as lyrics swathe against a gorgeous, simmering retro-authenticity. Swaddled are woozy synths, with hazy distorted vocals. Adding considerable body and depth to a track that consciously balances the chaotic current day, with a homage to decades and genres past.
Dark romantic notions linger, as though Fleming is hunting the forbidden source of his desire. Under late-night hazy skies, that merge with crowded smoke-filled rooms. Wine glasses gleam under golden spotlights, where stolen glances are exchanged. Guilt and Pleasure teases at sentiment and hooks our attention. Certain are its demands that Fleming is one to watch, with a tender yet mischievous nature.
Through a pulsing guitar, we are hurtled into the fast-paced, loud and untamed music of South Wales’ Alternative Rock Band Feverjaw. Since bursting onto the scene last year, they are a band that have made an impact, and their music continues to be very well received by fans and the industry alike. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they are planning to unveil their debut album very soon. With first single Bloodwork due to be released this Friday (4th September).
As boisterous guitars meet the clash of drums. Sparks fly on their tantalising latest track. With an opening riff that is strong and punchy, Feverjaw ensure we are hooked within the very first few seconds. Gritty rock music, delivered in a fresh and exciting new way. Bloodwork is fuelling and gloriously energetic.
Vocals from lead Dale Hawkins blaze through with bold ferocity. Providing that biting satisfaction, as this track roars to life. Exuding an undeniable air of confidence, Feverjaw are unflinching in the message they wish to convey. Brooding lyrics thrive over intense instrument playing, meandering between menacing and subtle melancholy. There is a definite ‘fight over flight’ fury that is uplifting and inspiring. The raucous music tearing throughout the track, ensures Feverjaw can be heard loud and clear. As Bloodwork shines to become an anthem of positivity.
Stirring and vibrant, Feverjaw are undoubtedly giving us a little more than just rousing rock music alone. With lyrics laced in thoughts and feeling, this sense of self and empathy that burns throughout their music, adds a layer of depth to your typical rock n’ roll façade. As we discover a band capable of becoming a beacon of hope. Feverjaw grasp rock music with all of its chaotic energy, and channel this to confront chaotic emotions head on.
Bloodwork is out on 4th September via Tone Burn Records
Combining cool, crisp vocals with a mellow soundscape. Welcome to the gloriously creative world of musician Matthew Barton. The release of EP Queen of England on a limited run of cassettes, affirms a spark of eccentricity, whilst a gorgeous vintage nostalgia flows through his music.
With simple bass hooks and tender guitar strums. Music is chilled yet quirky, basking in subtle looped-rhythms and tantalising pops of synth. DIY percussion patters throughout, and we are instantly transported to hazy days in Laurel Canyon. Sat around a smoky campfire sunset, ready for this roaring retro-trip. Just visualise that washed out sepia grain in your favourite old photograph. It is clear to see that Barton creates music as though it is a cherished snapshot in time, reincarnated in 2020.
Opening the EP with Cruising. Barton utilises varying vocal and guitar pitches, to create a mysterious ambience. Laced with lyrics of jealousy, longing and lust. The track introduces us to an ingenious aspect of musical experimentation, as Barton combines sinister high points with delirious ‘crooner’ vocal lows. As the tape flows through to second track Queen of England, we propel forward with a prominent percussion beat and an upbeat charm. Marrying oddly well with Barton’s jesting lyrics, that take a jab at the monarchy and state of the world. An impressive vocal range is once again displayed in majestic fashion, along with that undeniable flair for self-production. Showcasing numerous instruments played and recorded. Barton charges forward with a kaleidoscope of musical influence, ranging from the grunge of PJ Harvey to Spector 60s surf-pop.
Next track Lady Jane Days is a short interlude, at just over a minute long. It cools us down, and delves into the delectable laid back sound that dominates the overall style of this EP. Stripping the soundscape back to crunching guitars and subtle piano keys, Barton crafts a tender yet biting track, reminiscent of TheDoors, as track Barb bursts with 60s Rock Revolution. So rooted is this gritty vocal delivery,Bartonshines as a captivating muse, through rousing lyrics and a suave musical style.
Signature ballad of the EP Alcatraz, has a lyrical slant towards memories and ‘the grass is always greener’ concept. It’s a white picket fence nightmare, cradling what we have in one hand, with what we desire in the other. Barton’s vocals are serenely soft and almost chilling, brooding over this thought-provoking tune. We feel the turn of the key, as he unlocks himself from those shackles of day-to-day constraint, spilling secrets and thoughts, in harmony with his detuned guitar. The longest track of the EP, Alcatraz flows so fluidly in its tender format, with simple beginnings in gentle playing, building to become raucous and rampant as the track deepens.
Penultimate track Judy Garland perfects its fizz of 60s pop. With radio crackles and vintage vibrance to boot. Lo-fi beauty displayed in all its ambience. The track has an abundance of lovelorn groovy vocals and melodious harmonies. Gifting that brilliant Beatlesque sound, one could only dream of! Guitar and drum pitches are repetitive and rhythmic, creating a song that is catchy and charming. As the EP comes to a close through final track When I Was Young. Tempos glide by in a yearning lullaby, to cast our minds out to the horizon and drift away on a gentle breeze. Melancholy, vintage blues wash over our consciousness. Caressed by Barton’s soothing soundscape. The beautiful lead-single of the EP, praised by BBC Introducing for its “Stevie Nicks-style” sound.
There is no denying that Queen of England sets a striking musical scene. A culmination of stories, moments and memories, embodied through rich vocals steeped in nostalgia and a sun-kissed charm. The variety of instruments used only enhance the gorgeous eccentricity, with a self-produced realness captured on the lo-fi four track recording.
Through Barton’s self-confessed “postcard from quarantine” we are swept away to another place and another time. A clever musical escape, that will surely resonate with many.
Queen of England is available to stream and purchase now via Knifepunch Records
Exploring emotion and self-expression in such a profoundly beautiful way. Discover the latest EP from Rosehip TeahouseChillin in the Void. Led by the breathtaking vocals of Faye Rogers, Rosehip Teahouse hold our hand through their wonderous journey. Gifting music that swells with woozy love songs, earnest daydreams and intense emotion.
Gorgeously soft vocals set against twinkling synths and instruments, to create the loveliest blend of indie-pop. Emotive lyrics are woven with care, resulting in music that is tender and nurturing. Ensuring a comforting warmth wraps around us like a hug. No strangers to addressing fragile subjects; Rosehip Teahouse strip emotions bare, presenting them in their rawest and most vulnerable state. With an honesty so stark, their music is undoubtedly tinged with sadness. However, the resounding amount of empathy overwhelms any other disposition.
Chillin in the Void contains three previously released singles; It’s The Wrong Time,Regretting It and Thought Number 3. Alongside two brand new tracks; Space to Think and Lightfooted, for Once. Each exquisitely written, is home to its own unique message, meaning or purpose. Such sincerity sparks from their unflinching honesty in harnessing everyday thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Alluding that the ordinary is indeed rather extraordinary.
Magic found from within nostalgia and pondering, when thoughts are turned into lyrics.
You can stream or purchase Chillin in the Void via Sad Club Records
Ahead of the release of their debut single Key Largo. I caught up with Cardiff-based indie pop band Angel Hotel, to find out how life has been for them since lockdown and what their plans are for the future!
Hi Guys! So first of all, I have to ask how are you all coping during lockdown? I hope you’re alright and staying safe and well!
Hiya Becky! We’re great thanks and thank you so much for including us in your blog!
How have you found the current situation? Has it impacted your music and how you all create as a band? Or have you managed to find a way to make it work?
Like a lot of bands dealing with the current state of the world – we’ve been doing our very best to make the most out of a bad situation. Not being able rehearse as a full band, let alone play live shows, has been detrimental to so many of us but on the plus we’ve been using this opportunity to write as much new material and refine our live set to the best of our ability given the bizarre restrictions. Simply put, we are VERY excited to start playing live again!
Eagle-eyed music lovers would have noticed that you have recently made the decision to change your band name! Formerly known as Apostle, you are now the newly formed Angel Hotel!
What were your reasons behind this? Can we expect an exciting new sound from Angel Hotel?
The change in name primarily came from an evolution in sound. The initial concept of Apostle would be a solo project, but as the music developed – and so did the band – we no longer felt that it was a suitable name to call the outfit. In addition to this we felt that the name Angel Hotel was a better representation of our sound, branding and artistic vision. As well as it being our new name, Angel Hotel is also a famous Cardiff landmark that’s housed a litany of international artist. It’s a Welsh icon, and is as Welsh as Bara brith! We’re inspired by our city and we’re proud to represent it.
Who would you say are your biggest influences in music, both previously and going forward?
The writing process behind Angel Hotel songs have always been inspired and in part influenced by existing films soundtracks, while also adding our contemporary twist to a classic sound. We love 80s films! We are trying to encapsulate the way they make you feel rather than the way they are sonically – It’s the sound of nostalgia. It’s the sound of hearing something for the first time as a kid and falling in love the way it made you feel. The easiest way to categorise our genre would be under the umbrella of power pop, with the audience likening us to that of alternative pop and even grunge. Others have said that we have a sound reminiscent Bruce Springsteen crossed with the high energy Blink-182. Whatever the comparison, we hope people enjoy it.
Your debut single as Angel Hotel ‘Key Largo’ will be out very soon!I’d love to hear all about your ideas behind writing it, and what fans can expect to hear from your new single?
It’s a contemporary love letter littered with introspective reflections and a poignant hindsight, combined with a drinking sesh haha. The song isn’t our most energetic recording recently, however I think it showed a coherency that was more representative of our overall direction.
With the release of a new single, a new sound, and a new band name to go with it! Are you hoping to record your debut EP soon?
Our EP has actually already been recorded! We are beyond excited with the results and it was an absolute honour to be able to record at the legendary Long Wave Studios earlier in the year. We’re just so happy that we not only got to work with producer Tim Woodcroft but we also managed to finish the whole thing in two days, long before lock down restrictions were enforced so we are undoubtedly counting our blessings. The plan so far is to release the EP as individual singles – possibly three our four – and then release another full EP a little later down the line. Artists tend to release one song at a time because of how Spotify has taken over! Wish we could go back to the old days of releasing a full album! We’re chuffed nonetheless.
As well as being the lead vocalist of Angel Hotel, Sion has also just released a brilliant single as a part of Taf Rapids Stringband, and his own solo music! How are you finding juggling different musical projects with being in a band? It must be a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work too!
I [Sion] have found it a lot easier with the introduction of lock down to be honest. Since I lost all of my gigs I have found time to write. Taf Rapids Stringband is a blue grass venture completely different to my other projects but a style of music I’ve always loved playing. There hasn’t being a huge amount of other stuff to get on with so it’s been a fantastic excuse to get stuck in with as much music related work as possible.
It is clear to see how much love and passion you all have for music! Looking back over just a short space of time, you’ve had your own tour, have supported the likes of Dan Bettridge and most recently performed for free in aid of flood relief in our South Wales valleys, which was extremely kind hearted of you! What would you say has been your favourite show to date?
To be honest we’ve only had four gigs! We had a lot more planned this year with festival season looming. But sadly due to the virus all the festival plans were inevitably cancelled. Sad times! However, back in February we were fortunate enough to play a headline slot at The Moon on Womanby Street [In Cardiff]. It was great to see so many faces in attendance and gave us a taste of what’s to come and a great motivator to focus on the band going forward. We’ve definitely put all of our energy into writing the past few months and have managed to put together a library of new potential tunes, hot and ready to record.
It was also great to see so many local bands coming together for a great cause during the flood fundraiser. Cardiff is host to a plethora of fantastic bands and the Moon Club has always been one of the best places in the city to discover new grass roots bands.
What are your ideas for Angel Hotel after lockdown? Can you share with us any hints of your dream album in the works, or any future tour plans?
We’d love to work more with Tim [Woodcroft] and it would be an honour to do loads more recording at Longwave Studios. We plan for making up for lost time, and we intend on doing this by booking as many gigs as we can as soon as lock down is lifted. The long-term plan is to continue to produced music of a high quality and live performances of an exciting nature. We are looking to forward to catching up with as much live music as we can as soon as restrictions lift. With so incredible local bands to pick on, we’re spoilt for choice! We’re willing to bet there’ll be plenty of shows in the pipeline.
The Debut Single from Angel Hotel Key Largo will be out on 14th August
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MojoJNR is the alias of South Wales Musician Josh David-Read. Pairing the dreamiest of summer soundscapes, with husky vocal musings. His canvas of creativity spans far and wide, crafting music that will surely delight any listener. With a deep and unique approach to indie-pop, composed from the world around him. Josh harnesses a brave expression of his own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Utilising a vibrant spectrum of personal experience, to share his colourful musical universe with us. Friends and those he meets along the way may play a helping hand in what finally culminates as Mojo JNR. Yet the driving force, evoking and breathing life into the project, truly is Josh himself.
Sophomore single Peach Out is a clever play on words. Written about holistic methods of coping with anxiety. The idea for the track was originally derived from a text sent by Josh, with Peace Out, having been auto-corrected to Peach Out. This little quirk looped around in Josh’s mind, and together with a bit of research, he stumbled upon a crystal called peach aventurine. Discovering its benefits to soothing stress and worry, the concept behind Peach Out was born.
Josh explains how “Peach Out is essentially a light-hearted bedroom-pop track, focusing on how difficult it is to relax, even when you are doing nothing.” With swirling thoughts around anxiety, coupled with lockdown. Josh found himself determined to write the lyrics for the track, record, and self-release it by the end of July. Achieving that and more, Josh has proven himself to be a complex and motivated musician. It is truly awe-inspiring to behold his creative flow, from start to finish.
Peach Out pairs husky soulful vocals with simmering instruments and synths. With lead vocals from Josh harmonising exquisitely with backing vocals of fellow-musician Ci Gofod (Jack ThomasDavies) who features on the track. As the two vocals gently brush off one another, their overall warmth combined with keeping the pitch fairly low, results in a sultry summer-time track. Peach Out will perfectly resonate with fans of folk-rock singer Paolo Nutini, as well as the power-pop musings of an 80s Bowie.
Instruments are not overbearing, but instead infuse with the gorgeous vocal musk concocted, to create a soft yet rousing track. Without being raucous or loud, Peach Out is a woozy exploration of self-expression, evoking imagery of moody sunset blues.
Peach Out swiftly follows Mojo JNR’s debut offering Miles Away, which was released back in May. A brooding and slower guitar-fuelled love song, Miles Away stirs our senses, bringing to the forefront that one person we all need to move on from. With a smooth ability to easily transcribe a breadth of emotions, into lyrics. Josh is a remarkably keen songwriter, and it is clear to hear this talent reflected through his music. Miles Away is a marriage of music to lyrics, and a strikingly beautiful debut.
Mojo JNR is certainly one to watch, and amongst many others, I find myself incredibly excited to behold what the future has in store for this musical muse.
Peach Out and Miles Away are available to stream on Spotify
3:00am. Despite the stillness of the night, you find yourself lying awake. Looking again for the hundredth time, at the hand crawling around the clock. “Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock!” rattles through your brain like a dull ache. Bleary eyed and tired. Your inner monologue just won’t stop tonight. Sleep would be nice, but the thoughts are too loud.
Latest single Thought Number 3 from Rosehip Teahouse embodies those lonely hours we share with the moonlight. Basked in nothing but our own thoughts. Sleep will not come, because we are too exhausted by our minds.
Peering in through the glass of Rosehip Teahouse, we steal a glimpse at the thoughts keeping lead vocalist and songwriter Faye Rodgers awake. What begins as gentle musings, soon spiral.
Wrapping sincere lyrics within soft, delicate sounds. Rosehip Teahouse create emotional music, without any crushing weight to it. Instruments are kept light, and twinkling synths sparkle throughout the track like stars.
The woozy, dreamlike soundscape sets a scene of calm and tranquillity. Lyrics highlight Faye’s gorgeous song-writing abilities, and flawless vocals remain perfectly harmonious. The soft nature of the song, almost for a moment, allows for an escape from the sadness behind the words sung to us. Until we are jolted by the poignant finale.
Pairing opposing elements, of deep sadness and soothing music, together so beautifully. Fragile emotions are cradled and vocals lullaby soft. As though warming us with a comforting glow in the darkness.
At just over a minute and a half long; Thought Number 3 is a tender little indie-pop track, with huge emotional, poetic, and personal reach. For Rosehip Teahouse to have conveyed music so moving and resonate within such a short duration of time, is truly wonderous.
Thought Number 3 is available to stream now via Sad Club Records
Grasped by a guitar riff, we dive straight into latest single Can’t Go Back from London-based indie outlet Medium Love. Despite its initial heaviness, the biting riff soon softens when accompanied by an unexpected but glorious, pop of synths. Adding a light-hearted twist to the track.
Swaddling a mean guitar riff with synths could seem an odd combination at first. However the brilliant mixture of instruments Medium Love harness, showcases a unique sound, setting them apart from the very get-go. A ripple of personality breezing through within the first 5 seconds, certain to hook anyone in.
Can’t Go Back pairs perfectly with summer sunshine. As a snaking bassline pulses throughout, drums clash with guitars, creating a raucous rhythmic dreamscape. Pop-punk vocals from Kacey Underwood lift the track to dizzying heights, and once met by co-vocalist Heather Eaton, the duos varying harmonies combine to provide a rich vibrance. Reminiscent in sound to Childcare and The XX.
These vocal harmonies contrast exquisitely, not just with one another, but with their own individual tempos. Matching breathless woozy moments with intense shouted sections. Again, we see a build on that medley of sound Medium Love are delivering throughout their debut.
This mash-up of genres could risk coming off speckled and jarring, but Medium Love manage the balance just right. To present a track that is polished and professional, with just a dash of DIY-bedroom-pop vibe, which we all love!
Perhaps their professionalism spans from experience, as Medium Love are not entirely new to the music scene. Founding member Kacey Underwood was formerly of BigDeal, a band who achieved success amongst the grassroots movement between 2013-2016. Based between California and London.
Striking out anew with Medium Love, we feel that all involved are really beginning to channel their own unique styles. It truly is wonderful to behold! Especially when compared with the pure punk-rock that dominated the sound of Big Deal.
This flair and spark of individuality now at home within Medium Love, will surely stand them in good stead and I highly anticipate their upcoming EP release in just a weeks’ time.
To bottle an emotion, is to capture a moment. Holding on to a feeling, entwines memories within it.
Through Debut EP Open Up, Honey. GILLIE is completely in tune with her emotion.
Each song is a delicate glass jar. The contents of which are raw and sweet, yet a sharpness exists.
Pairing rich, earthy vocals with sweeping guitar sounds. GILLIE bares her soul through the most beautiful indie-folk music.
I had the overwhelming joy of premiering first track Winter Girl ahead of the release of Open Up, Honey. Engulfed with a love of GILLIE’s unwavering lyrics and gorgeous vocals. Her ability to expose such intense feeling is awe-inspiring.
Winter Girl resides as a song for growth. Recognising a difference in ones-self is a moment of freedom, yet with that freedom also exists a harsh undertone of deprecation. Past mistakes, doubts over your own identity, and cutting truths can rise to the surface. Winter Girl truly struck a chord with me. As Gillie admits to those bleak moments that often never meet the eyes of others, through her music.
For the EPs next track, Hear You Say, verses build to an intense chorus. Vocals rise to crescendo. Calmness breaks into a storm to be reckoned with, as GILLIE’s lyrical admissions deepen. Guitars pulse through the track like a heartbeat, and we feel our skin flush and emotions pivot from such raw honesty. Wounds from undeserving lovers are often deep, and GILLIE does not hide from her scars. Hear You Say is nothing shy of exquisite bravery. A beautiful song embodying the strength of wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Closing track Pleasant Thing is eerie by how well it resonates. A blend of soothing tones, gentle guitars and whispering vocals pry open the track. Leading us towards muted lyrics, cutting through like poetry. The poetic sombre nurtured by GILLIE, is once again achingly honest and so sublime.
Vocals lace through the mind of the listener delicately, yet the truths pouring through them awash all else. Soft, rhythmic instrument patterns compliment these vocals gracefully, whilst giving the track body and motion. Pleasant Thing soars to swoon in its breezy chorus, that yearns with sheer lust and longing. A gorgeous alternative love song. Pulling away from, yet pulling towards desire.
Each track presented within Open Up, Honey holds its uniqueness so well. Varying vocal pitches and depths convey such staggering emotion. I have no doubt, that each will hit home with their listeners in different ways.
Speaking of her Debut EP, Gillie explains;
This EP is based around the feeling of emerging from a grey, low place and rediscovering a place of certainly and comfort.
Overall, crafting an EP that is stunning, both vocally and lyrically. Pairing such refined vocals with gentle instrument playing has allowed for gorgeous juxtaposition.
Open Up, Honey is sublime in every way it could possibly be.
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with Jean-Francois Machet. Consisting of Gillie Rowland on vocals, Ailsa Tully on bass and Finlay O’Hara on drums.
Open Up, Honey is available to stream now via Skivvy Records
Ahead of the release of her strikingly-beautiful Debut EP Open Up, Honey which will be outthis Friday (24th July). GILLIE has shared with me the EPs lead single Winter Girl, which I am beyond delighted to introduce to you today.
Combining rich earthy tones, with a sheer and beautiful whimsicality. GILLIE blends a variance of sound to create the most sublime music.
Winter Girl is heartfelt and staggering. A stunning debut, from a very promising EP.
A lyrical journey of change. The track encapsulates growth from a pained past. Yet bravely explores elements often unspoken, through recognising that progression may not be easy.
Flourishing in the freedom of her self-expression. The track provides hope and clarity, whilst not hurrying past moments of doubt and angst. Recognising that in time, one can move forward with them.
GILLIE’s songwriting is raw and truthful. Encasing this within delicate yet fiercely unwavering vocals, and finessing amongst the gentle strums of a guitar. GILLIE has self-produced a track that is open, and enriching.
Providing a wonderful welcome of what we can expect to hear from Open Up, Honey upon its release on 24th July.
Listen to the first track Winter Girl exclusively here
Lancaster rockersMassive Wagons are set to soar, with their latest album House of Noise debuting at an impressive NUMBER 1 on the iTunesUK Rock Chart. With a can-do attitude and an unapologetically loud lust for life. Massive Wagons have won over the hearts of fans (including myself) up and down the country. That is before we even mention the fact, they are bloody brilliant musicians.
With shredding guitar riffs and scorching vocals from frontman Baz (Barry Mills). House of Noise hurtles us head-first into exactly what Massive Wagons are all about. Crazily energetic live performances, a dedicated love for their fanbase and a heap of good old-fashioned rock n’ roll. All embodied within this firecracker of an album. Which, as the title suggests, needs to be played loud and proud.
Through tongue-in-cheek lyrics (I’m looking at you The Curry Song), laced with an underlying ferocity at heartbreak, politics, and any act of being kicked while you’re down. Massive Wagons swoop in on those mighty rockin’ horses and pick us straight back up. House of Noise will have you chanting, singing, and head-banging until your heart’s content.
Undeniably a band for the people. Massive Wagons take what we are all thinking, and project it from a stage with force. Stand up and shout anthems that reverberate with so many, are just one of the reasons this band are so good at what they do. Several superb crowd-pleasers on their latest album, including Bangin’ in Your Stereo and title-track House of Noise, actually gave me goosebumps at the thought of witnessing live music again.
Baz’s distinguishable vocals and infectious energy are equally matched by hard-hitting instrument playing. You only need to listen to the gorgeously gritty intro of Hero to gather that. So much is driving this album on towards greatness. Really holding its own, House of Noise is an album that kicks everything we’ve known already about Massive Wagons, up a gear. Song after song, we’re met with music as bold as it is brilliant. Even in the woozy comedown of Matter of Time, I caught my breath, and listened in awe.
Watching Baz completely own a stage before was mesmerising enough, NOW I can only dream of the onslaught Massive Wagons will parade with when they take House of Noise on the road next March.
House of Noise is OUT NOW via Earache Records
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Through a happy-go-lucky swirl of sound, we are swept away by latest single This Side of Luv from Cardiff-based band KEYS. Honing inspiration from psychedelic pop of the 60s and 70s, their music is a glorious clash of instruments with the grooviest lovelorn vocals from lead Matthew Evans. Bedroom recording at its best, the track is a glowing example of plug in and play. In no way overthought or finely tuned. Instead This Side of Luv took shape during the recording process and came to life using cassette four-track machines during lockdown.
Reflecting on Britain in the early 70s, KEYS recall how joyous music emerged from bleak moments. Pondering over its effect on history, they express how music has the power to lift the spirit, and hope to achieve this with their very own modern-retro sound in 2020. Without any shadow of a doubt, This Side of Luv is a song capable of boosting any glum mood. Seeking beauty in heartbreak, the track radiates fun and happiness in the brightest of technicolour. I long for the moment I can dance around to a spinning KEYS vinyl.
With an unmistakable early Beatles vibe, KEYS provide a perfect nod of nostalgia, but shake things up with a new-age bang. Rhythmic drums and guitar hooks flow marvellously throughout the track. Yet without drawing on any formalities, it is safe to say that this is simply a great piece of music.
KEYS have blown me away with a brilliant blend of vintage vibrance for This Side of Luv, that commanded my attention from start to finish.
This Side of Luv is out now via Libertino Records
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