Molly Burch #4 - Please Be Mine

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Posts here are getting rarer and rarer so I must apologise, there's a hundred and one reasons that I won't bore you with... There's two albums of 2017 so far that I completely love, one is Courtney Marie Andrews' wonderful Honest Life and the other is Please Be Mine by Molly Burch, whom I fell in love with in the middle of last year.

Unbelievably her best song (in my opinion) "I Adore You" doesn't make the cut but over ten songs Please Be Mine transports you to a sensual wonderful filled with Molly's sultry, hazy vocal and slowly waltzing balladry, swoonsome is the best word I can think of.

Molly plays London's Sebright Arms on June 1st, I shall definietly not be missing it. 

Mermaidens #3 - Lizard

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Ah yes, guitars and darkly hued menace, two of my favourite things. New Zealand's Mermaidens have featured here a couple of times already and the taut, hypnotising rhythms, harmonising choruses and swirling guitar textures of "Lizard" were sure to make me pick up on the trio again, a four minute concoction of noise, distortion and gnarling confrontation. 

Perfect Body is due out on August 4th via Flying Nun.

Unnveig Aas #4 - What Hurts The Most (Is Knowing You Want To Leave)

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I cannot believe it is already almost two weeks ago that I was very happy to find myself in attendance of an off:larm showcase (a few additional shows put on as part of By:Larm) and catching a superb set by Oslo's very own Unnveig Aas (I caught her as part of the main festival in 2016 too).

She kicked the set off with the brilliantly titled "What Hurts The Most (Is Knowing You Want To Leave)", a classic country ballad filled with pedal steel, chiming guitars and perfectly placed percussion amongst heartfelt, storytelling lyrics. It pulls you in from the start and you can feel the anguish in Unnveig's velvety voice.

I love the video too, with the arms movements and the piercing stares straight out of the live set.

"What Hurts The Most..."  is taken from Unnveig Aas' forthcoming debut album, Old Soul, due March 31st via Playground Music. (Order here). If the rest of the set was anything to go by, you won't be disappointed. 

Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life

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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 - The Holy - More Escher and Random Notes

Albums of 2016 - The Holy - More Escher and Random Notes

I've lavished praise on The Holy here countless times, slowly but surely people are starting to listen. The Helsinki quintet do not fuck around, leaving everything on the table at the end of their songs and treating you to these beautiful yet humungous soundscapes filled with soaring guitars and pummelling beats, their debut EP More Escher and Random Notes sums that up in more over five quite glorious tracks. 

"This Will Be the Day That I Die" was the track that started it for me a good while ago now, a huge, sweeping epic filled with darkly hued atmosphere. it's edgy, it's gorgeous and it's tense and it's even buoyant. Opener "Can't Remember Your Name" is another slow burning beauty that's just the right mixture of brooding and beauty, the percussive melody slowly rises in intensity amongst different, but always darkened textures, add in cascading synths and brooding guitars and soon it will command your complete attention up to its unsettling conclusion.

There's lots of drums throughout (there are two drummers in the band) and "Airport for Lovers" rushes along like Springsteen on acid with pulsating rhythms and soaring guitars duelling for attention. I can't pick a favourite but perhaps it is "Ramses The Evil Brother", similarly brimming with ideas, darkened in colour and majestic in delivery, rushing through at breakneck speed and triumphant in its fuzzy, dramatic conclusion, a truly glorious listen it is too.

More Escher and Random Notes is quite simply the best thing that passed through my ears in 2016 (closely followed by Blackstar - I'm not going to bother reviewing that one at the end of January - I'm sure you've heard it).

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. 

Albums of 2016 - Shura - Nothing's Real

Albums of 2016 - Shura - Nothing's Real

One of my two favourite pop records of 2016, Shura's debut full length Nothing's Real may have been a long time coming for those of us with her from the outset but it rewards the listening fully and offers a perfect addition to 80's indebted pop with a modern twist that's finding an increasingly prominent place in my record collection.

The entire record is direct and emotional from start to finish, filled with a broken-hearted mood amongst smooth, shimmering textures, take the wonderful trio of tracks that predated the album "Touch", "Just Once" and "Indecision" as perfect example and the brilliant "Indecision", a more 80's indebted, school dance-floor jam with sparkling synths and woozy guitars that is both restrained and luxurious as an example of the more upbeat moments seen best on the bedazzling "White Light".

The softly spoken vulnerability reaches its peak on my favourite two new tracks ("Touch" will always be the Shura song for me) "What’s It Gonna Be?” and "What Happened To Us", both see Shura challenging her lover with forthright questions about the potential end of relationship and hit hard with the tangled web that is human emotion. Despite its often brittle subject matter, Nothing's Real comes across as sexy and poppy and I love it. 

Amy Gillespie - Wintertime (For Blue)

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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.