Pom Poko - It's A Trap

Facebook

Hello there.

I returned from Oslo on Sunday after my second By:Larm festival, the 2017 renewal didn't quite have the familiarity of the 2016 festival for me (indeed, I'd only really heard and seen Julia Jacklin beforehand from the entire festival line-up of some 100+ artists). Over four nights though I discovered a good handful of wonderful artists in-between drinking the expensive beer (ranging between £7.50 and £9.60 a pint!) , the first of which I'm featuring here I saw twice, the wonderfully frenzied freakout that is Pom Poko (and any band that references Studio Ghibli in their title is a winner with me).

The band seemingly have picked up a bit of press prior to the weekend, with Best Fit writing about them a few times and most recently last month but the band seemingly won some festival prize and I'm sure more support is soon to follow. After seeing their live performance I know it will. With a few earlier tracks seemingly removed from the Internet for now it leaves "It's a Trap" as the sole Pom Poko track available, it serves as a fine introduction in itself. An intriguing blend of pop-punk noise, where kaleidoscopic guitar riffs and cascading vocals grab your attention from the get-go and refuse to let go.  

The entire set followed suit, a chaotic mixture of chunky riffs, boundless enthiasm and brilliant tracks. I've included a live video from one of the shows I was at, not taken by me to give you more of an idea... (the curious 80's attire was worn both nights). 

P.S. I want some merch here in the UK.

Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life

Facebook

My entry point to Courtney Marie Andrews is the sort of thing I used to do all the time in my university days (far too long ago now), walk into a record shop (this time it was Resident Records during a recent trip to Brighton) and randomly pick (and buy) an album purely based on the cover art, the track list names and the record shop blurb (heart on the sleeve country ballads was more than enough to part me with my hard earned). In this case, and many others down the years, the excitement of getting that record home and pressing play for the first time and taking that step into the unknown yielded exquisite results (and of course some utter horrors). It's a joy that the ease of streaming services and the Internet (and blogs like this) denies many. 

I picked Honest Life, my introduction to the Los Angeles basedsongwriter but actually her third LP (official, I believe there are a few that pre-date the three left on streaming services) and my instinct was spot on, the album is a treasure from start to last, filled with intimate and sparse ballads coupled with pure toned vocals and striking simplicity.

I could pick a number of other tracks to focus on throughout Honest Life, the heart melting title track, the beautifully plaintive "Table For One" or the equally subtle power of "Let the Good One Go" but it's the 'biggest sounding' pairing of "How Quickly Your Heart Mends" and "Put The Fire Out" that hit me hardest, reminding me of the sorely missed (and soon to return, I hope, Caitlin Rose) with strong, empowered vocals and devastatingly honest words. 

It's one of two essential releases of 2017 already (I'll write about the other one very shortly).

Albums of 2016 - Petite Meller - Lil Empire

Albums of 2016 - Petite Meller - Lil Empire

And now, a lot, lot later than planned, my other favourite pop record of 2016. If The Lion King was made now and was a little more about the "Hakuna Matata" moments, there's a pretty good chance the soundtrack would sound like Petite Meller's debut record Lil Empire, it's bonkers, it's fun, it's vibrant and it's brilliant. 

From the very first notes of "The Flute" you are aware of that, pop meets majestic and beautiful African soundscapes in a boundless joy of a record that is catapulted by Petite Meller's utterly captivating lead, you sense her endless enthusiasm before you even see her videos, bouncing around with the energy of a young child and her unique style of eccentricity.

"Baby Love" is of course the one, an absolutely massive chart topper (nearly nine million YouTube videos mean I'm hardly the one one who thinks so), an infectiously quirky, dancey pop anthem that you'll be singing along all day long.  Early single "Barbaric" is nearly as good, a contagious banger with a killer chorus and then there's "Milk Bath" too, filled with funky afro-beat rhythms and the wonderful "Geez" needs mention to.

Basically, the only recommendation I have with Lil Empire is to play it and dance around your room like you don't care, I think that's what Petite Meller wants you do to. 

Amy Gillespie - Wintertime (For Blue)

Facebook

From a recent favourite, to a heavenly voice I've been familiar with for a while to something brand, brand new to me. London based Amy Gillespie and the ridiculously beautiful "Wintertime (For Blue)".

Perfect for the chilly nights ahead (and armed with a warming glass of whisky) the track is crushingly pretty from the get-go with Amy's evocative vocals and some wonderfully constructed guitar lines painting the most perfect of pictures. Go listen below.

Julie Byrne #2 - Natural Blue

juliemariebyrne.com

One of the positives have being awol from the new music scene for quite a period of time is discovering acts you've followed have new material to immerse yourself in, that's summed up with "Natural Blue" by the exquisite Julie Byrne, her 2014 debut Rooms With Walls and Windows was one of my records of that year and if this is any indications, Julie Byrne's second record Not Even Happiness (released on January 27th Pre-order) will be one of 2017's best.

"Natural Blue" is slow drip of emotion and hushed melancholy filled with evocative guitar circles and sparse, atmospheric beauty. Majesty awaits for those unaware with a click below.

Molly Burch #3 - Try

Facebook

I doubt I'll do a 'tips for 2017' (I've really not been active enough this year to have a real handle on acts that are genuinely exciting me). If I were to do one, I can safely say Molly Burch would have been included, the heavenly "I Adore You" is probably my favourite track of the year (that or "Baby Love" by Petite Meller but that's arguably a 2015 release)...

"Try", the latest track to be taken from her debut full length album Please Be Mine out Feb 17 on Captured Tracks (and available on LP (w/ limited special edition pink here) sums up my attraction perfectly, a sumptous blend of effortless and endearing beauty which pares Molly's swoonsome vocals with rolling drums and playful guitars. 

Billie Marten - White Christmas

Facebook

It's nearly Christmas, believe me when I say I know that this time around... At work we are changing our phone systems and I'm continually on the phone to Vodafone to try and get them to action my emails (never, ever use them people), it also means I'm used to Vodafone hold music and the Buble Christmas CD.

Thankfully as this is my blog, I only post good things about Christmas, like this faithfully sweet cover of "White Christmas" from the lovely Billie Marten. Softening to the touch, go and listen below.

Ghostly Kisses #3 - Empty Note

Facebook

Hello. You may remember me. Not sure if this is an attempt at finding some motivation to continue this blog or the dying embers of its existence... We'll see I guess.

Either way, this is just gorgeous, "Empty Note" by Ghost Kisses an artist I've featured here a few times before over the past eighteen months, a serene mixture of breathtakingly intimate vocals and downtempo synths, one for a late night contemplation then...