As Article 50 is triggered and the process of taking Britain out of the EU aka #Brexit becomes a reality … did you experience that surreal Donald Trump-esque WTF vibe too? … it’s an appropriate time to launch our new music series, ‘Discover #Brexit’. This UK focussed series will feature songs, possible anthems, which, over the course of the next few years, will help see Britain through its biggest state of flux since WW2.
The series, which will run in tandem with my new Discover Ireland series, will mainly but not exclusively feature artists supported by the wonderful folks over at BBC Introducing. Some of you will already be aware that I am a volunteer moderator, reviewer and flag flier over at new music artist support hub Fresh on the Net. During my two-year tenure, I have seen at first-hand the challenges new music artists have to overcome to get their name known and music heard. Which is why helping to promote new artists and music has pretty much become a passion!
I’ve witnessed fab bands like False Advertising, Vryll Society and Estrons (work extremely hard to) get their heads above the media parapet, while superb acts like Bryde, Tiny Folds, Cascades, Jazz Morley, The Trusted and War Against Sleep have all had music featured by their respective regional BBC Intro hubs. Some were even lucky enough to snaffle a slot on the highly prized BBC Intro Saturday Night lives.
The aim of this Discover series, is to highlight up and coming emerging music artists in addition to bringing music from some of Britain’s finest to, if not your doorsteps, then your laptops, iPads, smartphones & co by way of an ever-changing Spotify playlist.
So, without further ado, let’s get the party started.
Possibly one of my favourite bands of the now, I first came across Chichester based Dutch Criminal Record back in 2015 when I reviewed their hotly faved track ‘Socks and Sandals’ for Fresh on the Net. They describe their music as ‘indie surf’, I describe it as f**kin’ cosmic.
This is my kinda indie – golden glow vocals, clever guitar riffs and a ‘locktite’ rhythm section. There’s plenty of instrumental talent, spades of ingenuity and some mighty catchy songwriting behind this fun four-piece, super-popular with music fans and tipsters alike. They’ve successfully pushed four songs through the FOTN machine in addition to having their music featured on sundry Spotify playlists and the BBC Introducing MixTape. With some gigs coming up including one in London you should keep an eye on their FB page.
While I’ve a thing for their current single ‘Change of Heart’, all warm melodies and renegade guitar riffs, they’ve just released a Super8 shot vid for their track ‘Stuck Between’, here it is, just for you!
Glasgow duo Honeyblood released their Babes Never Die album last winter, since which they’ve been all over BBC radio playlists like Piers Morgan on Twitter. Most recently they bagged one of the coveted slots at the 6 Music Festival which, conveniently for them, was held in their home town.
They’re currently upside down in Oz, next stop Singapore, which must come in at a considerably higher ranking on the wow factor scale than Lanarkshire.
Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers make up Honeyblood, the former on vocal/guitar duties with the latter on drums. Their sound could best be described as hard and fast, urgent thunder while their vibe screams empowerment and an abundance of une énergie furieuse. There are traces of pop sensibilities and some softer pop-rock melodies, but the overall style is grunge with a metal shard stuck up its ass. It’s a bit Sleater Kinney with knobs on and all the sass of The Slits, and puts Honeyblood up there with other alt-rock cum neo-punk zeitgeisters such as Wolf Alice, Sløtface and Black Honey.
April will see the pair face into an extensive round of live dates kicking off at Galway’s electic Roisin Dubh (they play Whelans Dublin on Saturday 8th, makes note to check diary) before working through various venues across the UK, wrapping up at London’s Koko in June. Dig into the ‘5th Element’ like visual for their single ‘Sea Hearts’ here.
Leicester based fuzzsters Dayflower, confectioners of sweet n sticky sugar pop and general all-round reverb-festooned indie dudes. Another band who’ve won the hearts of FOTN and BBC Intro with their deliciously hypnotic, drone infused anthems.
The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and general Leicester lege David Dhonau (of dystopian hip hop collective ‘1,000,000,000,000 o’clock’ fame … no words!) and Norfolk blow-in Alex Clemence, Dayflower has been through a few transitions of late resulting in a more tightly knit and focused unit whose sound has, as a result of its metamorphoses, evolved extensively.
Their most recent double A – ‘Neverfriend/Seeing Up’ – sees the band diffuse an edgier, more acerbically grungy tang through their candy-pop drone, giving it more balance while still retaining its original lo-fi sensibilities. Gone is the smartie-sweetness of previous tracks, replaced with richer, darker and more textured sound fx, putting Dayflower’s drone into the same category as gaze pioneers, MBV.
Curators of the now notorious Candy Dust club-nights, Dayflower’s following has grown to epic proportions well beyond Leicester’s borders, as word of their proactive promotion of a plethora of new music artists from across the spectrum spreads like honey on toast.
Their latest video for the single ‘Seeing Up’, sees sequences of psychedelic fade merge with some captivating drone footage, making for one hell of a mind-bending, awe-inspiring visual. Watch it here.
The London based blues-rock singer is a grittier, sassier Duffy for 2017. Everything leans towards sixties flecked blue-eyed soul but the grinding rock n’ roll guitar content adds dangerous levels of toxicity. Birmingham born Harlea was snapped up by 0E0E singles label of Propeller Recordings before releasing two tracks ‘Miss Me’ and ‘You Don’t Get It’.
Harlea’s voice, flecked with golden undertones, is one almighty powerful weapon of vocal force. It’s determined, stubborn sassiness trimmed with melodic soul, like a turbo-charged Maserati replete with soft, beige leather upholstery. Light to the shade. Omega to the Alpha.
And that’s the thing with Harlea – she is a young woman performing in a genre that is predominantly male. One in which only the gutsiest of females – Chrissie Hynde, Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks – thrived and survived. Something tells me that Harlea is both well capable and equipped to do likewise.
Playlisted by every major UK radio station and currently doing the interview-rounds with big glossies such as Vogue and Elle, Harlea is set to take 2017 by the scruff and make it her own.
WHO? TEMPLES OF YOUTH
Originally a three-piece called Shallows, this Winchester based outfit downed tools, took stock, did some skin shedding and reinvented themselves as electronic duo Temples of Youth. Jo Carson on vocals and percussion with Paul Gumma on guitar make up this rather thoughtful and unpretentious outfit. With more of a social and political consciousness than most, their last single was an ode to lost futures in a post-Brexit Britain, although given its inevitable pessimism dirge is probably a more apt description.
Frequent flyers on the airwaves of both BBC Intro South and Solent (the latter having snaffled some of the former’s terroir), Temples have also featured on FOTN and the BBC Mixtape, and have been playlisted by Beeb heavyweights such as Steve Lamacq, Huw Stephens and Dermot O’Leary. In fact, all of their five singles have received airplay between the Beeb Big 3 – 1/2/and 6.
The duo are constantly on the go, writing, recording, gigging and actively seeking out new ways through which to get their music heard. Most recently they shot two live sessions in collaboration with Context Films, one of which – ‘Enso’ – you can watch here. Gigs a-plenty are lined up including the Gigslutz affair in London from April through the Summer so keep an eye on their socials for updates.
WHO? KELLY LEE OWENS
Goddess of existential electronica, Welsh synthsmith Kelly Lee Owens is to experimental music as Alan Wilder is to avant-garde. Owens’ ingenuity knows no bounds while her ‘instrumentation’ is precision personified. Innovative mining and exploration of sounds, samples and weaves are second nature to this mistress of the unconventional.
Like a musical Edison for the 21st century, Owens has forged an unparalleled line in austere electronica in many ways akin to the found-sounds of a hospital ICU, which should come as no surprise given her nursing background. There’s something of the clinical to her sound yet it is far from simplistic froideur. Technically perfect it may be, but ultimately this is ethereal escapism. Cathartic and purgative, it is both tangible and intangible, real and unreal. Put simply, this self-written, self-produced, self-titled album, is one of the best debuts I’ve ever heard.
The album includes a collaboration with (Phonofile) Nordic Music Prize Winner Jenny Hval entitled Anxi.. An intense, beat ridden compulsion, it is infused with the dreamiest of liquid harmonies which solidify into a melodic, spoken word sequence, post which the track metamorphoses into a mesmerising trance instrumental, interrupted only by momentary clouds of bewitching chant.
Several festivals including Norway’s Øya, Dorset’s The End of the Road, Primavera and Iceland Airwaves are all pencilled in. Nothing scheduled for Ireland yet but the year is long. Keep track of developments on the official website.
WHO? THE LUKA STATE
Bold as brass, larger than life and twice as loud, this four-piece rock band from Cheshire are widely tipped for great things (Q, Clash, Disorder) and all you have to do is listen to their latest single to understand why. TLS have rock n roll on a cinematic scale
running striding through their veins; their sound being as widescreen as it is urgent but not at a price.
Rocking out cock-sure vocals with Lamborghini-esque horse-power, front man Conrad Ellis is capable of singing the catchiest of melodies with the most insistent tones without ever dropping a note. Instrumentally too there is a dogged determination to the way this band play. The overall symmetry of their delivery, a testament to hard graft and dedication, is not to be underestimated.
Like most of the other acts here, The Luka State are touring their cotton sox off – full details on their socials. They have “something exciting coming your way” so stay tuned!
WHO? THE CLEAR
Next up yet another band who made it onto the boards of FOTN and BBC Introducing (musicians, are you getting the hint yet?) A slick three-piece from Sheffield, The Clear are Chris Damms, Jules Buffey and Bryan Day.
Aside from taking a parking space on the same Fave reviews as the upstairs neighbours TLS – review here – these suave sophisticats have also been featured on the BBC 6 Music shows of Radcliffe & Maconie and Chris Hawkins.
The only word to describe their sonic style is ‘class’ – everything about what they do is elegance personified, right down to the high strings, percussive trim and undulating infectious beats.
Vocalist Julie Buffey’s voice is as suggestive in tone as it is luxurious in sound, her lines delivered with stylish aplomb and a hint of something more. Musically, The Clear’s style is a compendium of jazz, pop-orchestral, latin and tropical with more than a hint of John Barry around the edges. So much so that several reviewers mooted that their latest single, ‘The Planets’, would make for one hot momma of a James Bond theme! What do you think?
Someone who hasn’t yet featured on FOTN, mainly ‘cos he hasn’t tried, but who has worked with artists that have, is Matt Gooderson. The artist now known as Clyma, is a musician, composer, lecturer, remixologist, producer, DJ and geek renowned throughout the industry for his technical prowess and a cinematic imagination that enables him to concoct the most astonishing remixes.
Recent collaborations include work with Infadels and the glorious Gris de Lin for whom the tech-meister remixed the track ‘Your Ghost’ (more on the way … shhhh!). Most recently, Tinchy Clyma has done a beyond amazing job remixing the JOSH Savage//Alice Pearl project, ‘Whisper in the Snow’.
Without corrupting the essence or simplicity of the original, Clyma has taken this ‘gentle breeze’ of a song and given it another life, a more vivid direction. In not interfering with the pared back vocal sensibilities Clyma has held onto the wistful innocence and raw emotion of the original, while at the same time transforming the overall vibe into a more energised and eclectic one. A master of creative ingenuity, technical proficiency and the art of subtlety. Check out the Clyma-Savage remix here.
As the Brexit guillotine falls on the green and pleasant lands, valleys, lochs and causeways of the UK, I think it appropriate to bring this to close by featuring an artist of mixed parentage whose heritage reaches out beyond UK borders to disparate countries but who, because of birthright, can identify as British. Lianne Le Havas was born 1989 in London to a Greek father and Jamaican mother.
Will the post-Brexit anti-immigration dystopia into which team GB has thrust itself herald the rise of a monoculture and subsequent demise of the diversity and cross-ethnicity that once made it the great cultural melting pot of the 20th/21st centuries?
As the world turns on a new and uncertain axis, I’ll leave you with one of the most perfect, most sublime of songs to come from pre-Brexit Britain, as sung by the wonderful and very British, Lianne Le Havas.
From blistering grunge punk through blues-rock, from R&B to drone, this is best of breed British music in 2017. Check out the first cut of my Discover Brexit playlist here … follow if you like. You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter @DervSwerve. While you’re listening to the playlist you might check out emerging artist support hub & music portal Fresh on the Net, brainchild of Brit legend Tom Robinson.
The Discover #Brexit showcase series will run fortnightly.