Tips for 2014 #10 - Young Romance


It's been a quiet year at face value for Young Romance, a band whom I discovered in the summer of 2012 through their incredible track "Follow On Your Own". 2013 has been spent mainly behind the scenes until the recent news that the band are set to release their official debut single "Pale" early next year, it's enough to propel them into this list and hopefully fulfill my initial quote of 'my new favourite thing'.

"Follow On Your Own" is one of those rare tracks that makes your jaw hit the floor the first time you here it, switching from big, bold choruses with strong drums and fuzzy guitar to pure, sweet pop verses at the flutter on an eyelid, I fell in instant love with it and it should have been one of the biggest indie-pop hits of the year yet it sits with less than two thousand soundcloud plays because people are crazy like that...

Their return "Pale" is another blisteringly good song , blowing away any cobwebs with a fuzzed up introduction of jagged guitars and fast-paced drums. Bigger and heavier than anything they've done before it retains the band effortless knack of combining charm with emotion and Claire's beautiful, pure vocals sound as gorgeous as ever.

Pale is released February 24th via Banquet Records and is available to order on limited 7" now - go get one

Tips For 2014 #9 - Sophie Jaimeson


There's been a trend within these tips for a soft, emotive voice full of devastating song-craft and the next pick Sophie Jamieson is no exception...

I first discovered Sophie some eighteen months or so ago now as a bare-boned solo folk artist making tracks across London with a beautiful, contemplative
sound of intricate guitar plucks and a beguiling, pure vocal. Her progression since has been startling, working with Ben Walker on her magnificent debut EP Where released in June through (half) his Folkroom Records, it saw the addition of some haunting, shimmering soundscapes and an increasing maturity to Sophie's music from an artist who'd just left university.

Even though her sound has progressed from that of a sole singer-songwriter there's still a spellbinding simplicity throughout, tracks like the EP's closing "Ode To The East" is delicately delivered but truly moves you, clutching at seldom found feelings with a delivery that oozes with genuine emotion. "Dinah" was Sophie's breakthrough track and is equally timeless, a restrained, slow-motion acoustic waltz that plucks at your hear-strings and leaves you with a warm, evocative feeling of beauty. A genuine folk flag-bearer for the future.

Sophie has a few more gigs yet this year including one at The Slaughtered Lamb (the venue I actually last saw her at her launch show) supporting Bella Union's Sumie on December 11th - details.

Tips For 2014 #8 - Lyla Foy

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Lyla Foy, recently changed to her birth name from previous pseudonym Wall and signed to Sub Pop for the release of her debut album due next year and sent it straight into the wish-list of many with the sensational single Easy.

The track highlighted a startling progression from her earlier work yet remained as intimate and beautiful as before. The perfect example of Lyla's hushed, wounded style backed by restrained yet increasingly expansive instrumentation and subtle beats to create a sound equally haunting and enchanting, one in which you want to get lost in time and time again.

The live show is grander still and I'm expecting an album full of intimacy, emotion and melody.

Tips For 2014 #7 - IYES

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As I mentioned briefly earlier this week when this band featured on the long-list for The Blog Sound of List, my introduction to Brighton duo IYES came at a show they'd probably rather forget during The Great Escape...

Equipment malfunction meant their standard set had to be scrapped and instead we were treated to a short acoustic set, I think it worked out rather well and I was instantly pulled in by stunning vocals of Melis Soyaslanova, in an acoustic setting her sweet, luscious vocals oozed with seductive haze amongst Josh Christophe's backing and acoustic strums.

That however is not a true indication of Iyes, their soundcloud gives that. The recently released official debut track "'Til Infinity" combines sprawling electronic soundscapes with percussive hand-claps and those stunning vocals to pull you into a rich, atmospheric world whilst early demo "Lighthouse" is more XX styled minimalism where glacial guitars and retained beats give you the chills with heart-melting intimacy.

Just a year old perhaps 2014 will still be too soon for Iyes to produce a full-length debut but I'm sure whatever they do release will be just as rewarding to the listener.

Tips For 2014 #6 - Haerts

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Changing genres a little bit now with Haerts, a group based in New York City (but whose members come from Europe and across America) whom I've been following since earlier this year when I came across their bedazzling track "Wings" (one of my singles of the year). It rightly propelled them to the radar of many, a flawless beauty that smolders with perfect cinematic textures, stylish, swirling atmosphere and subtle, reflective mood.

Taken from the same EP Hemiplegia (released in September via Neon Gold) the quintet followed it with "All The Days", another impeccably-crafted gem, where timeless, vintage soundscapes swoon and soar, combining with the beautiful, haunting vocals to beguiling results.

Haerts reminds me of a combination of countless bands from times gone by but the results sound modern and fresh; add the 80's pop of a Gloria Estefan and the stylish moonlight synth of an Ultravox with added 90's guitar shimmers and a bridge of Foals-esque tropical-pop and perhaps you'd could create a melody as swoonsome. On top of this you have the truly heart-melting vocals of Nini Fabi, with a naturally warm, uplifting voice that you can't help but instantly fall in love with.

The debut album is due next year, if it follows the same glimmerings formula, we are in for a treat.

Tips For 2014 #5 - Dog In The Snow


Here's a post I alluded to the other week, Brighton's Helen Ganya Brown aka Dog In The Snow has featured here no less than four times this year with a series of tracks released introducing an eerie / beautiful sound which though stark and ethereal remains strangely rich too. The result is a compelling, hypnotic tapestry of luscious soundscapes that hints at much more to come (There hasn't been any 'official' release yet).

The first track I heard "Africa" was mentioned here again just a couple of weeks ago after the release of a sublime live video. I called it a 'performance so perfect and polished that you could easily be fooled into believing it was a studio release aside from the clapping that book-ends the track and the odd bit of feedback. The track, of course, is outstanding, combining the otherworldly essence and mystery of a Planningtorock with a melody and rhythmic groove you'd expect from Foals with the addition of Helen's ethereal, softening vocals - the result is as captivating as it sounds'.

"Fire In The Sky" swept around some UK blogs earlier this year with a combination of experimental mysteriousness and unsettling chills, it jumps right at you with tribal drums loops, melodramatic piano and claustrophobic synths, sounding harsher than the haunting beauty of "Concrete Wall" or "Brother" - I don't think I'd seen the stunning live version of the latter I've included below, it comes with a rather uncompromising finale.

Hopefully the tracks we've heard so far will have an official release in 2014 along with a couple of new ones (I'm greedy). I can't think of any new act making music quite as chilly and effecting right now. Remove images of furry things rolling around in white stuff and listen below.

Tips For 2014 #4 - Disraeli Gears


Disraeli Gears are another one of those bands whom I've featured thus far at every available moment (search through the past posts dating since September 2012 here), a quartet based between Leeds and London whom are yet to officially release anything but with four tracks shared online to date and with their social media accounts hinting at a future EP (I assume aimed for a release in 2014) are sure to gain more exposure soon.

I tried to get the band to play a Beautiful Strange date earlier this year (currently my live events are on hiatus but might well return next Spring) but we couldn't get a date right, either way I'll be making sure I can break my live duck with the band as soon as possible, two live videos for "Back of My Eyes" and "Mother, I" hint at a bewitching set full of widescreen guitars shimmers and big pounding beats that build from softening beginnings to a powerful, prog-rock-esque aural storm that sweeps you off your feet with a sound that crosses Hope of the States with Anna Calvi.

The studio release of "Skeleton" is out of this world good, an extraordinary six minute journey that starts with gentle, ringing guitars and Teia Fregona in complete control of her haunting, vulnerable vocal range before the track drops and a change in tempo is propelled by crashing drums and billowing guitars - I think I could listen to it all day.

When that EP is announced, I'm sure you'll hear about it here...

Tips For 2014 #3 - Broken Twin

Broken Twin has been an obvious inclusion for this list since I first heard Majke Voss Romme's debut EP Hold On To Nothing in the midst of summer, a collection of four tracks which beguiled with an affecting intimacy full of genuine emotion that tugged straight at your heart-strings.

Now signed to American label ANTI- (home of Neko Case, Wilco, Tom Waits an more) the Copenhagen singer-songwriter released an even more incredible, moving track "Sun Has Gone" last month and picked up superlatives from quarters around Europe during a supporting tour of Daughter.

A full length debut is due next year (I'm actually off to see her debut London show tonight - I can't wait) and promises to expand of the uncluttered and arresting sound of "Sun Has Gone". A stark, haunting beauty full of introspection and pure vocals that gets right under your skin with different shades of beauty and desolation. As emotive and spine-tingling as music can get - don't miss out.