Jez’s picks #24
Jesse Daniel Smith, Tow’rs & Christopher Tin: three new tracks to discover
New this week
The first day of my life by Jesse Daniel Smith — an upbeat yet melancholic soft rock song that would be at home on an episode of Scrubs. I love the line “I’d rather be cashing a pay check than hoping for the lottery”.
Whisky & Wine by Tow’rs — a sweet little duet with a catchy chorus and beautifully intricate guitar riff that flows throughout.
Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin ft. Soweto Gospel Choir — theme song to the Civilisation video game series, Baba Yetu is a lively, operatic track full of joy and celebration. The lyrics are a Swahili translation of The Lord’s Prayer, but Tin’s composition is much more exciting than Sunday mass.
Click the play button to hear some music:
Dusty Road by Hunter and The Bear — If you like a bit of alt-folk rock like me, you’ll probably like this song. Dusty Road has a big glug of Bears Den harmonies, a handful of driving Mumford guitars, and a pinch of Jovi à laWhole lot of Leavin’ thrown in too.
No Grace by PAWS — A passionate indie song championing tenacity and condemns giving up in the face of initial rejection from Glaswegians PAWS.
Coffee & Wine by Chadwick Stokes ft. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars — A chorus that makes me want to sing and a bass line that makes me want to dance (badly). Go on, give it a listen.
Silhouettes by Preoccupations — Another odd genre name here, Wikipedia has this one down as ‘Labyrinthine Post-punk’. All I know is they remind me of Bloc Party, Klaxons and Friendly Fires, and that surely can’t be bad!
14 Faces by Lewis Del Mar — Lewis Del Mar are back again with a new single, Painting (Masterpieces), and the B-Side is a gem. 14 Faces is full of the melodic tension and über-cool vocals that got me hooked on them back in January.
In a New Bed by Matt Maltese — An elegant, bitter-sweet track with piano that builds and lyrics that tug at the heartstrings. Flashes of The Frames (Falling Slowly) and The Cinematic Orchestra (To Build a Home) in here.
Ears, Eyes, Ohs and Yous by Bloody Knees — Kicking off with a Libertines-like guitar riff, this track by Bloody Knees is brim full of energy and a sandpaper rough sound.
Only Me by Arctic Lake — Polar opposite to Ears, Eyes, Ohs and Yous, Arctic Lake’s Only Me has a bare, expansive sound with beautifully gentle vocals.
Spirits by The Strumbrellas — A happy little folk-rock track with a catchy chorus. Reminds me a bit of 2009: bands like Alphabeat, Airbourne Toxic Event and Fun.
Sister Electric by Saint Agnes — Their Hoxton gig back in June was outstanding. Sister Electric is a delicious shot in the arm of hard rock blues.
Poem by She Drew the Gun — Roach’s words weave a lucid picture of injustice, fragility and desperation that many would rather not discuss. A beautifully heartbreaking track.
The Care Song by Riva Starr ft. Bob Andy — An uplifting reggae/house track to get your head bobbing and face smiling. Love the lyrics on this, and the riff is really catchy too. Sounds like summer.
Hard Come the Rain by Rag’n’Bone Man — A sweet blues song with a driving guitar riff, a calloused and weather-worn vocal, and powerful chorus.
In Love and Alone by Public Access TV — A punchy earworm out of New York City. Rough, edgy and full of character.
Elizabeth Taylor by Clare Maguire — A voice that is nothing short of epic, filling an otherwise subdued composition with beautiful ebbs and flows of emotion.
Henna Henna by The Bombay Royale — This little gem was discovered whist watching season two of Better Call Saul. It’s a curious combination of Bollywood and Western soundtrack styles.
Not for Sale by Crobot — New song, same hard-rock revival formula fromCrobot. This band are top live. If you get the chance, buy a ticket.
Cecile by Pumarosa — Come for the Kate Bush-esque vocals and 16-bit music, but stay for break-down and guitar solo at the end. Cecile is exciting and catchy.
Folk Arp by Minor Victories — A slow guitar intro builds to a beautifully delicate string score and bubbles into big release. Feels like a mix of Fightstar, The Verve, and Massive Attack.
Bones by Cash+David — A song that hands out little surprises along the journey that tempts you through the track like a carrot on a stick.Bonesbuilds from a simple beginning — adding a synth line here, and an extra beat there — to a symphony.
Powerful Love by Chuck & Mac — A heart-wrenching 70s soul track about a destructive love. Emotional lyrics and powerful vocals. Heard it on the soundtrack to Looper.
While We’re Sleeping by Blonde Bunny — A dark, atmospheric and unsettling song with a sound that I can’t quite describe. There’s shades of 80s post-glam romantics in there somewhere, and the singer’s voice has a touch of Bowie about it. All I can say is have a listen.
An Introduction To The Album by The Hotelier — The first track off 2014 album Home, Like Noplace Is There is an intriguing blend of early MCR and Biffy Clyro c. 2008. Poetic lyrics sung with desperate delivery but melodic and beautiful.
If I were Sorry by Frans — Laid back RnB from Sweden. I really like it.
Made Of Stars by Hovi Star — A beautifully crafted love song full of emotional lyrics.
Walk On Water by Ira Losco — An absolute belter from Malts’s Ira Losco who almost won Eurovision in 2005. Could have a bright future as a bed on BBC telethon montage videos.
1944 by Jamala — An impressive song with haunting lyrics. Ukraine’s Eurovision winner is far from the competition’s sugar pill norm, and a killer track in it’s own right.
Ljubav Je by Dalal & Deen — Sung in Bosnian, Ljubav Je has a sweet instrumental intro, a rousing chorus and lots of angry shouting.
No Degree Of Separation by Francesca Michielin — Italy’s Eurovision entry somehow manages to be simultaneously soft and intense in equal measure. A mesmerising song.
Sound Of Silence by Dami Im — Dami Im has an outstanding voice, and Sound of Silence is another great Eurovision song from the Australians. Classic slow verse, loud chorus and big finish.
Pioneer by Freddie — A topical song from a country at the heart of the European humanitarian crisis. Poignant lyrics and a husky voice.
Dona by Kaliopi — A handsome power ballad conjuring the spirit of Bonnie Tyler. Good fun, with a catchy hook.
Hear Them Calling by Greta Salóme — An outstanding track with lots of little surprises to it. The chorus has festival flair.
Cherry by Moose Blood — Simple, yes, but this song also a painful bleeding-heart confession about regrets and a hope to find redemption.
Parasite by Vant — Short, sweet and oozing punk-swagger, Parasite is an explosive track that’ll hit you for six. It was a great moment at their gig at the Dome this week.
Husk by Black Foxxes — A proper rock and roll band. Husk is a really exciting song, with dirty guitars, catchy hooks and a killer solo.
Riding Out This Storm by Dan Owen — At Owen’s gig in Hoxton this week,Riding Out This Storm was fantastic once again. The melody on the chorus is beautiful, his voice powerful, and these lyrics bittersweet.
No One’s More Happy Than You by Clem Snide — Brilliantly melancholic, like a fake smile and reluctant compliment delivered through gritted teeth. The sloppy military-band arrangement is something quite extraordinary.
Rose Is In The Yard by Treetop Flyers — A beautiful song about an obsessive love with a girl named Rose, ‘a breath of fresh air in a world that is dead to me’, and a reflection on the overlooked value of the simple things in life.
Your Colour by The Away Days — I’ve seen this band described as ‘dream pop’ (?) and ‘shoegazing’ (?!), all I know is The Away Days have a great atmospheric-indie sound. Your Colour reminds me of bands like British Sea Power and The Boxer Rebellion: cavernous vocals and layered guitars.
The Sea by Silences — A love song packed full of cleverly crafted nautical metaphors. It starts slow and builds to a satisfying end.
You Have Saved Our Lives, We Are Eternally Grateful by Wovoka Gentle — There’s a lot happening at the start of this track. Multiple voices and disjointed instruments. Don’t let that put you off.
I was once travelling on a busy train when, for a split-second, and with no explicit cause, I experienced a collective, simultaneous silence. Everything and everyone on the carriage felt aligned and in focus. There was a beauty in that single moment of clarity.
As You Have saved Our Lives plays, something similar happens, and by its end this track has evolved in to something elegant and coherent.
Girl by Island — This band sound a lot like the Kooks (remember them!) with a touch of Band of Skulls. Island combines laid-back vocals with chunky guitar riffs.
The Grape and the Grain by John Joseph Brill — Brill’s sandpaper-like voice is both ugly and beautiful, sweetly coupled by the subtlety of his guitar playing.
Wave(s) by Lewis del Mar — The second track I’ve featured from the New York duo, Wave(s) is a great track to put your feet up and relax with. Grab a cup of your favourite hot drink and enjoy their silky vocals and the occasional electric synth crash effects.
Who Sent You by Broken Hands — A big slice of bass-driven Kasabian-y rock. Starts strong, but unfortunately doesn’t quite hit top gear. A good track nonetheless.
Save It For Later by The Beat — Yet more music from Netflix shows, and a third from Love. Save it for Later is a fun piece of 80s ska-pop.
I Can’t Go On Without You by Kaleo — My second track by Kaleo, this moody rock song form the Icelandic band has hints of Zepplin to start, and a killer blues solo to boot.
The Golden State by John Doe — Everyone loves a bit of good old bleeding heart soft rock, right? Nothing here to offend, just plenty of bittersweet lyrics about love that’s so wrong it’s right. Found this song on the Netflix show Love
I’ll Fight by Wilco — Another find from the show, I was hooked by the opening acoustic riff. Another great feel-good track.
Nervous by Gavin James — A beautiful voice and a beautiful song. James is like the Irish Sam Smith, but better.
This Isn’t Love by Vitamin — With a similar sound to Flyte, This Isn’t Lovereminds me of late ‘naughties’ bands like Alphabeat and The Ting Tings. It’s an upbeat song with a slightly melancholic message.
The Woodpile by Frightened Rabbit — Last year I fell in love with Scottish band The Twighlight Sad. This year I may have found a new love from north of the border in Frightened Rabbit. The Woodpile is a great little track from their 2013 album Pedestrian Verse.
Parking Lot by Vant — Sum 41, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Feeder; Vant would fit right in with the music I had on my mp3 player in 2004.
No Good by Kaleo — I’m loving this song from the Icelandic Kaleo. A killer riff, snappy lyrics, and a fantastic voice. Stick it on repeat.
I Think It’s Going To Rain Today by Lauren O’Connell — Another artefact from my television habit. I discovered this Randy Newman cover whilst I was binge-watching The Good Wife ready for the new season. O’Connell’s delicate voice, and melancholic tone feel perfect for this song.
Kimberly by Childcare — When I saw them support Black Honey at the Sebright Arms last autumn Childcare were stunning, and the punchyKimberly was a joy to hear.
A ‘super-secret’ headline gig the following week was called-off after maverick frontman Ed Cares picked up an injury, and soon after the EP was pulled from Spotify. Until now. Do yourself a favour and listen to it before they disappear again.
Seven by Rainbow Kitten Surprise — Invoking the sound of turn-of-the-decade alt-indie, Seven sounds a lot like the XX and a bit like alt-J too. I can’t seem to get the chorus out of my head.
Atlantis by Seafret — The Bridlington duo smashed it at the 100 Club on Wednesday. Atlantis was my favourite song on the night. They’re debut album, Tell Me It’s Real is rather tasty too.
Thieves by The Beach — I first heard The Beach last year. They’re a similar band to Seafret, and Thieves is a killer track I listened to a lot in 2015.
I Remember by Fictonian — After catching his intimate set in Stoke Newington with Gig Club this week I wanted to share this beautiful piano track from Fictonian. It sounds a little like Muse in their quieter moments, and little like Radiohead too.
Be sure to take advantage of the minute silence at the end to do a bit of remembering yourself.
Puppet On A String by Night Beats — Fuzzy guitars, echoey vocals and an unceasing lyrical hook: this track has all the ingredients of a punchy sixties-retro-sounding track with a killer riff thrown in too.
Quiet by Rachael Yamagata — A delicate, painful reflection on a bittersweet but inevitable end to love.
Port-Ainé by Kiran Leonard — Rolling drums guide you along Port-Ainé like a gentle yet unrelenting river’s flow — the pace and intensity slowly building to a wonderful cliffhanger.
Devil In Me by Anderson East — This Alabama-born blues singer was my pick for January’s Gig Club, so it goes without saying I’ve been listening to a lot of Anderson East recently, and this song is one of favourites.
Loud(y) by Lewis Del Mar — The first track on EP, Loud(y) has an elegant uneasiness to it. Spanish guitars are coupled with a dirty bass line to create a meandering ebb and flow.
Simple Song by The Shins — I’ve watched a lot of How I Met Your Motherrecently, and this beautiful song plays at the big reveal of the season 8 finale.
Stranger by Ben Caplan — If Caplan’s booming voice doesn’t enchant you, the way Stranger grabs you, pulls you over the edge and tumbles with you down a rabbit hole of tumultuous pianos, crashing cymbals, and meandering strings will.
You by Keaton Henson — Recommended to me by a friend, I’ve been enjoying Henson’s album Birthdays. The stark but elegant sound of You is one of my favourites; awesome and uncomfortable at points, with beautifully melancholic lyrics.
Light Me Up by Flyte — I saw Flyte play live at the end of last year in support of Seafret. This up-beat, inoffencive piece of pop-rock is a perfect way to kick off the year.
Skulldiggin by Black Joe Lewis — The first track on 2013 album Electric Slave, I just love the fuzzy distortion on this; it reminds me of hearing Wolfmother for the first time.
Bedlam by Stick in the Wheel — I found this track last November whilst searching for a gig for Gig Club in January. The melody and vocals of Bedlam is still an earworm for me now.
Little Red Rooster by Dan Owen — Another support act from Seafret’s gig last November, watching Dan Owen perform this live was one of the highlights of my entire year. I’ve already booked tickets to see his London gig in April, and would certainly recommend it to anyone.
Wildfire by Seafret — One of my favourite bands of 2015, this is Seafret’s new single. I first heard the pair play this live in the awesome acoustics of St Stephen and St Thomas Church, Shepherds Bush.