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
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.