Best of 2015…International

Oh Wonder

International One to Watch, Gris de Lin

Bridport multi-instrumenatlist, Gris de Lin, is not yet a name tripping off universal tongues, but it is a moniker that has set tongues wagging within the “those in the know” industry inner sanctum.  2015 has seen Gris instil her enchanting other-worldliness into the worlds of BBCIntroducing, BBC6 Music, Fresh on the Net and BBC South to name but a few.  Collaborations with renowned producer, Matt “Clyma” Gooderson as well as live sets with the likes of Ed Harcourt and Joe Gideon, have seen her name kiss the lips of murmuring musical media.

A debut album scheduled for release early 2016 should see her star soar and explode like a comet, bringing it’s ghostly glow to the inky black sky.

International Breakthrough, Oh Wonder

London based duo, Oh Wonder, have subtly hit a raw musical nerve with their well crafted, pared back take on indie electro-pop.  They very cleverly allow their songs to breath, let the music find its own space, something that is a rare find in today’s world of pop.  With sharp, tightly synced vocals and clear, fluid  melody lines, it’s no wonder Oh Wonder with their sublime debut eponymous album, have softly tiptoed  into the heart of the 2015 scene.  Like a small pebble being thrown into a pond, they barely made splash, but quietly caused a lot of ripples.

International Best Solo Artist, Hozier

There’s very little that can be said about Andrew Hozier-Byrne that hasn’t already been said!  As well as being a gifted lyricist, with a voice that once heard will never be forgotten, Hozier is also an hugely outspoken advocate for human rights, as can be attested to by his stunning video for lead track ‘Take me to Church’.  Hozier owned 2015, playing several high profile award ceremonies, including the MTV awards, as well as being on the receiving end of Grammy noms and Billboard awards.  He ends the year on a high with the recent announcement that he has been nominated for this year’s BBC Music Awards, in the International Artist of the Year category, alongside such luminaries as Prince, Taylor Swift and Foo Fighters.

I for one am in high anticipation of new releases in 2016.  Take it away Hozier….

International Best Group, U2

What can I say?  Arguably one of the best bands in the world and, in my opinion, most definitely the best live band around town, U2 brought it all back home in 2014 with the release of their latest album, ‘Age of Innocence’.  With a much welcome return to form, U2 proved once again why they are centre of the global musical stage, and with a year full of sold out arena shows behind them, they can look back at 2015 with merited ‘Pride’.

International Video of the Year, Naytronix, ‘Back in Time’

Well this one snuck up on me just as the doors were closing.  More dude than Beck, American Nate Brenner of tUnE-yArDs fame, went solo on this one, going under the moniker, Naytronix and releasing an album, ‘Mister Divine’ via the too cool for school City Slang label in October.  ‘Back in Time’, the lead track from the album, was spun out into the world a few weeks back, but the Jeffrey A Tang/Andrew Truong directed video only landed on our doorsteps  two weeks ago.  This heart warming California dreamin’ visual, perfectly captures the sentiment of this endearing and enticing sonic retrospective.  Take yourself ‘Back in Time’ …

International Remix/Cover/Edit of the Year, Clyma, ‘Your Ghost’ Gris de Lin

Super-producer, remixer, songwriter, musician and DJ extraordinaire, Clyma, has taken Gris de Lin’s ‘Your Ghost’ , turned it on its head, pumped it with rocket fuel and whipped it like an hypnotic spinning top, into a trance filled dancing phantasm.  Clyma has completely but very carefully, transformed this gorgeously haunting melody without once interfering with Gris’ breathtakingly emotive vocal.  The result is simply stunning, as is this re-edited version of the original video, by Richie Vernon.

International EP of the Year, Mac DeMarco, ‘Another One’

Unless you’ve been on a year long retreat in somewhere remote like the dark side of the Discworld, where any form of communication or transmission outside of the clacks system does not exist, you can hardly have failed to have heard the music of, if not the name, Mac DeMarco.  This Canadian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter’s flag has been blowin’ in the wind since 2012, but pretty much went full mast in 2014 following the release of the album, ‘Salad Days’.  July this year saw the release of 9-track instrumental album,  ‘Some Other Ones’ but the jewel in the 2015 DeMarco crown was the (mini-album) EP ‘Another One’ – a small collection of musical short love stories which the man himself described as, “kind of like every angle of how somebody might feel if they’re having strange feelings in their chest.”  Prepare to FEEL.

International Album of the Year   

Choosing the number one, from my top three International album picks was one tough call, but at the end of the day, my musical radar picked the album with the strongest pulse and the loudest heartbeat.  The one that excited the most, resonated the most, “frissoned” the most.

This album screamed out, “Hello, we’re back, did you miss us?” to which the answer was “yes, Blur, we did!”

An ardent, of the day ‘Britpop’ girl, and one who was very much in the Blur (v Oasis) camp from the get-go,  ‘The Magic Whip’ sent my adrenalin soaring, and not just mine either judging by the impressive sales figures!  ‘The Magic Whip’ is an album of many moods and textures, sometimes darkly exotic, other times sparse and terse, but with inspired tracks like the ravishing ‘Mirrorball’ sparkling out from the romantic shadows, it hails a staggering and triumphant return by Blur, to the magic of their glory days best.

Sufjan Stevens ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Joanna Newsom ‘Divers’

Blur ‘The Magic Whip’

International Song of the Year 

I struggled and struggled with this one, even moreso than with picking the best album.  Albums are like Christmas Trees – they have something for everyone.  Songs are individual gifts. They are singular, personal.

For me the songs I like and love tend to be pretty endemic to certain genres!  Therefore I have to wage internal wars between head and heart to see who will win the battle – logic over emotion, critical acclaim over personal taste, or even better again, a blend of all four.

To be honest, I looked at the charts, and looked away in despair.  Too much for these taste buds much of what is “top tenning” these days.  Too much churn from the factory production line – too much samey, samey blandness.

I’ve whittled the list down to three songs that I feel I can stand over and say, in a cool, calm voice, that IMHO these were the best three songs of 2015.   Imaginative, different, splendidly written, instrumentally strong, well sung, each with their own winning style – they are three prime examples of what it takes to make a truly good song.  It’s that simple …

At the end of the internal battle, I finally gave nod to U2 because of this one simple live performance.  Enjoy.

Florence & The Machine, ‘Ship to Wreck’

Blossoms ‘Charlemagne’

U2 ‘Song for Someone’

Next week we’ll be running through the Best of 2015 – Nordic.  Until then x

Introducing PluralBaby & Debut Album, ‘Bird Wandering Off’

Artwork by Matt Anstee
Artwork by Matt Anstee

Brighton based solo artist, PluralBaby, dropped his debut album ‘Bird Wandering Off’ today, and what a joy it is.

Initially recorded in his mother’s attic on a dusty piano, and, on a gallivanting Akai midi keyboard flitting between Sweden and England, the initial sounds were hibernated, only popping their heads back out into the light again earlier this year.

Happily, Englishman Aaron King, the man behind the PluralBaby project, hooked up with renowned musician/ songwriter, Otti Albietz, and together they fleshed out new, more intricate arrangements along with quirky edgy mixes,  that gave the album a more cohesive, textured quality.

Described by Aaron as an “experiment in recording and writing”, ‘PluralBaby’ is indicative of an artist with an intimate and often eccentric compositional and lyrical subtlety, which he supports with thoughtful and quirky musical soundscapes.

A full review of the album is due to be published on the Subba Cultcha website shortly.

Mastered at Spectre Studio by Troy Glessner, all songs were written by Aaron and produced by Albietz.

The Pluralbaby debut album ‘Bird Wandering Off’ is available now on Bandcamp.

You can follow Pluralbaby on Facebook.

 

SIGUR ROS ANNOUNCE 2016 FESTIVAL TOUR & “IT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT”

Sigur Ros

Icelandic band Sigur Ros have just announced details of an upcoming festival tour for Summer 2016.  Excitingly, the band have confirmed that they will be playing some new, unreleased songs, sparking fevered speculation amongst fans that the release of a new album is imminent.

The tour will include Summer festivals across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands and the UK.

Making the announcement on their FB page, the band said:-

“We are pleased to announce that we are playing festivals next summer in the spirit of adventure.  All we can say right now is it’s going to be different, with new unreleased songs, a new show and maybe some other *new* things. beyond that, we can only ask you to trust us on this one.”

“Festival dates announced today for Norway, Denmark, Russia, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands ‪#‎sigurroslive “

Of particular interest is the announcement that they will play Bergenfest on 16th June, details here, as well as London’s Citadel Festival in mid July, see here.

You can check out details of the full festival tour schedule here.

The last release from Sigur Ros came in November 2013 with Rafstraumur, the fourth single from their album Kveikur.

You can listen to Rafstaumur here.


News Feature : Up&Up We Go As Coldplay Premiere Second Track From New Album

Coldplay 15

Coldplay have premiered yet another track from their forthcoming album, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’.

Headlining at the weekends Tidal live-stream event, at the Belasco Theatre LA, the British band performed four songs from the new album.  Along with premiering the track ‘Up&UP’, which you can hear below, the band showcased the previously premiered title track,  along with ‘Amazing Day’ and ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’.

The band had been scheduled to play the Tidal live-stream on 13th but rescheduled after news of the Paris atrocities broke – “Tonight’s live stream for TIDAL & KROQ has been postponed out of respect for the terrible events in Paris”.

Judging by what we’ve heard so far, upcoming album, ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ is shaping up to be one of Coldplay’s most interesting and diverse releases.  Frontman Chris Martin, said before playing ‘Up&Up’ – “This is the kind of song we’ve been waiting to write for 15 years”.

The studio version of “Up&Up” features Noel Gallagher in the guest-guitarist slot, about which Rolling Stone mag has quoted Martin as saying,

“We wanted to marry all the music that we love, from Drake to Oasis.  There was a feeling that we don’t have anything to lose. We’re very comfortable now with the fact that we’re not for everybody.”

‘A Head Full of Dreams’ is set for release on 4th December.

News Feature : Nils Frahm & The Turn of the Screw

Photo by Claudia Goedke
Photo by Claudia Goedke

Another release of music by German wunderkind Nils Frahm has been announced by his label Erased Tapes – except this time, it comes with a twist.  Entitled ‘Screws Reworked’, it is an ingenious compilation of reworked Frahm tracks from the 2012 original album , BUT (and here’s the twist) they have been made by musician-fans.

The backstory to ‘Screws’ is by now pretty well known, but to recap in brief.

Frahm made the album ‘Screws’ whilst recovering from a broken thumb.  Inspired by friends and fans, to whom he had turned for ideas during the creative process, Frahm returned the favour by way of gifting the album as a free download. This in turn led to so many fans sending Frahm their own versions of the tracks that he publicly called out for submissions to be sent to him, from which he has now picked nine reworked pieces to make up ‘Screws Reworked’.

Tracklist
01. Nils Frahm – You (Bug Lover Remix)
02. Nils Frahm – Do (Databoy78 Rework)
03. Nils Frahm – Re (Helios Rework)
04. Nils Frahm – Mi (Soul Channel Rework)
05. Nils Frahm – Fa (Fred Yaddaden Rework)
06. Nils Frahm – Sol (Ruhe Rework)
07. Nils Frahm – La (Sebastian Freij Rework)
08. Nils Frahm – Si (Plasma Rüby Rework)
09. Nils Frahm – Me (Analogue Dear Rework)

In case you can’t wait another three weeks to hear this fascinating muso-fan homage to the great man himself, you can listen to it here via SoundCloud.

‘Screws Reworked’ will come bundled with the original album, and goes on release via Erased Tapes on 11th December, 2015.

News Feature : Adele Drops Video of Another Live Performance

Adele

Ahead of this weeks release , global chart smasher Adele has dropped a video of yet another live performance of a song featured on her forthcoming album, ’25’.

‘When We Were Young’, which Adele co-wrote with singer-songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr, was performed during a live session at London’s Church venue. It will feature in a TV  special for Australia’s 60 Minutes on 22nd November.

Recalling their first meeting in LA, Adele had this to say of Jesso –

“I absolutely loved him; his vibe, his humour, the way he plays piano – so felt. The music he makes is romantic, with a ’70s vibe. It turned out he was a really big fan of mine – and he totally kept his cool together, being thrown in the deep end, for our first co-writing session… His grandparents were friends with Philip Glass, and Tobias had inherited Philip Glass’s old piano. We wrote our song, ‘When We Were Young’, on that piano. How cool is that? I’m definitely going to work with him again. He’s my new secret weapon.”

Chatting with SiriusXM Adele told the interviewer –

“It was based on us being older, and being at a party at this house, and seeing everyone that you’ve ever fallen out with, everyone that you’ve ever loved, everyone that you’ve never loved, and stuff like that, where you can’t find the time to be in each other lives. And you’re all thrown together at this party when you’re like 50, and it doesn’t matter and you have so much fun and you feel like you’re 15 again. So that’s the vibe of it really.”

Adele’s new album ’25’ is due for release on 20th November and comprises eleven songs.  Here is the album tracklist,

‘Hello’
‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’
‘I Miss You’
‘When We Were Young’
‘Remedy’
‘Water Under The Bridge’
‘River Lea’
‘Love In The Dark’
‘Million Years Ago’
‘All I Ask’
‘Sweetest Devotion’

News Feature : Palace Winter Launch Vinyl Edition of ‘Medication’ EP Ahead of London Gigs

GUYS

Ozzie-Danish** duo, Palace Winter, have it all going on right now, between single releases, promotional work, signings, non-stop interviews and oh, a bit of music here and there, just to keep the fingers nimble and voices limber.  **(I was going to say Melba-Danish but that’d just bring a lot of Peaches imagery into your head wouldn’t it!! #nom).

Fresh from the launch of the digital version of their debut EP, ‘Medication’,  the guys have been endlessly gigging around Euro hotspots, doing countless radio interviews with National broadcasters, as well as being furiously booked in for some serious live dates in 2016 – name-check #by:Larm – yup, read about it here !

And that’s just the tip of the good news iceberg!  This weekend saw the release of the vinyl edition of the Palace Winter hit EP – sniff it out here.  As only 300 copies have been pressed, you’ll need to get your turbo charged skates on to snaffle a copy.  I strongly recommend you buy now, think later, as this is one seriously rockin’ EP that you don’t want to miss out on.

As if that wasn’t good enough news, those PW charmers have announced that they will be hitting a London near you in December.  Monday 14th sees them doing an in-store at Rough Trade whilst Tuesday 15th has them belting out those rockin’ tunes at the uber trend-monster venue, Birthdays, details here.

And just to get you in the mood, have a play of these two adrenalin pumpers from the ‘Medication’ EP – ‘Time Machine’ (my personal fave) and the SoundCloud busting ‘Menton’ (it’s had over 110k hits to-date and bust the Hype Machine charts out of the stratosphere!).

The EP ‘Medication’ is out via Tambourhinoceros records.  Palace Winter can be followed on Facebook & Twitter.

See you on 15th XX Swerve

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Nils Frahm Announces New ‘Nonkeen’ Collaboration & Mary Anne Hobbs Scoops World Excl Preview

nonkeen_childhood_2

In 1980s Hamburg, a trio of music loving primary school friends with a techie bent, decided to try their hand at making some electronic sounds.  Fast forward to 2016, and updated, enhanced and re-energised variations on the Hamburg theme, will debut in the form of, ‘The Gamble’, the ‘surprise’ album from the three former amigos, under the moniker, ‘nonkeen’.

Nonkeen, comprises Nils Frahm (whose collab with Olafur Arnalds was recently featured here @DervSwerve) and his fellow childhood music makers Sebastian ‘Sepp’ Singwald and Frederic Gmeiner.  The threesome have got back together to close out the sonic project they started so many years ago, and to which intermittent updates have been made over the past ten years.

nonkeen_childhood_1

The three initially started recording music to complement a radio show that Gmeiner and Frahm were hosting back in the late 80s.  As their catalogue grew, they started doing live performances, but as is the case with so many childhood friendships, the three went their separate ways, only recently getting back together to tie up the loose musical ends that have now resulted in ‘The Gamble’

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Nonkeen debut, ‘The Gamble’, is set for release on February 5 via R&S records. Mixed and mastered by Frahm, it is available to pre-order on iTunes and Bandcamp.  Here is the 9 strong tracklist:

01. the invention mother
02. saddest continent on earth
03. ceramic people
04. animal farm
05. this beautiful mess
06. capstan
07. chasing god through palmyra
08. pink flirt
09. re: turn!

MaryAnne Hobbs, long time champion of Frahm’s music, scooped the world exclusive preview of track 7 from the album, entitled ‘Chasing God Through Palmyra’.  It was aired on her BBC6 Music programme, ‘Recommends Session’, and you can listen to it here (I have it set to start at the MaryAnne intro).

nonkeen_portrait_2

‘The Gamble’ is out on 5th February 2016.  More details about the album and the ‘nonkeen’ biography can be found on the official website.  You can also check in via Facebook.