Sunday, 25 November 2012

NEW MUSIC: MARIKA HACKMAN

Marika Hackman is a twenty-year old from London, who earlier this year released her debut material in the shape of a double a-side single 'You Come Down' and 'Mountain Spines' through Transgressive offshoot Paradyse Records. She recently supported Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and this week she sets out on her own mini headline tour of the UK. Theres also been a 5-track covers EP which has been floating around for a little while, with acts such as Warpaint, Nirvana, Nico, The Knife, and Dusty Springfield all receiving the 'Hackman treatment'. It's fair to say then that she's been a pretty busy lady of late, and with 2013 just round the corner and mentions of further material appearing soon, she's shows no sign of slowing down. But what of her style? 

Well it's folk, but not the happy-go-lucky paint-by-numbers stuff, she has much greater resolve, ideas, and complexity to fit into that bracket. Her voice has great depth, and a dark edge which hints at someone who has done her musical homework and absorbed a wide range of different influences and styles. Returning to the aforementioned EP it is not just the calibre of artists that have been covered, but the approach Marika has taken with it that really shines through, as she brazenly implements her stripped back ideas almost completely transforming the songs into her own material. The cover of 'Lithium' by Nirvana in particular stands out, but each track has its own charm. Overall it's a striking listening experience and a tantalising glimpse at what our ears could look forward to next year with the release of new material. We're excited...

Check out the covers EP and forthcoming headline tour dates >>>  www.marikahackman.com / Marika Hackman

Monday, 19 November 2012

EP: NINETAILS - SLEPT AND DID NOT SLEEP

Signed to Superstar Destroyer Records (awesome name), Liverpools' Ninetails follow up their debut EP 'Ghost Ride The Whip' with their new record 'Slept And Did Not Sleep'. Straight off I'll let you know I think it's an incredibly ambitious sounding album that arrives with an ever increasing fanfare from the likes of This Is Fake DIY and Clash Magazine. Having already shared stages with Alt-J, Tall Ships, and Errors, Ninetails have certainly built up a strong reputation already despite their short history together as a band.

The 5-track EP kicks with 'Maybe We', a defiant opening of rumbling bass and distant guitars which is slowly transformed into a full on rhythmical beast, featuring soaring guitars and transfixing drums, alongside otherworldly vocals. It's a strong opening which sounds really complete and together showing a band clearly in tune with their ideas and intentions. 'Body Clock' follows with offbeat drums, intentionally ambiguous vocals, and yet more gorgeous guitars creating those floating hands in the air, slow motion moments. The ending of the song is drawn out, with the band veering off into experimental territory with sound coming and going with various moments of feedback, synths, and drones. For the second track on the record it's a brave decision to stray off the beaten track so early, but it works ever so well.

'Fawdon Fever' is next up, a stunningly groove laden track which never ceases to bore, with the intricate and melodic guitars proving hard to not get consumed by. 'Boxed In' is an odd track, being almost devoid of any apparent rhythm or melody, leaving us with distant futuristic bleeps and drones which if nothing else certainly puts you on edge and wondering what on earth is going on. At over 8 minutes in length its not a track which will appeal to all, but if you like to hear different ideas within your musical palette then you may well find something here for you.

Finishing this EP is 'Mama Aniseed', a track which seemingly brings together all the elements which have gone before it. There's the experimental electronic moments, melodic guitars, offbeat drums, as well as the first proper introduction to Ed Black's vocals. For me its the guitars which really suck me in with Ninetails, with the delicate riffs and finger picking complimenting the drums perfectly, leading to those brilliant moments of music which just feel completely right, emphatically suiting whatever mood you're in.

Released on December 10th, Slept And Did Not Sleep is gloriously experimental but still retains a clear melodic and accessible edge. Comparisons could be drawn with the likes of Wu Lyf, Foals, Late Of The Pier, and Everything Everything, but really Ninetails have their own independent sound. You'll pick up different things on each listen of this record making it a real joy for the ears every time. The potential for this band on a full length release is quite tantalising, as is the impact these songs must have on a live audience. Speaking of which the band are playing their first London date at the Bull and Gate on November 29th, alongside the Music Liberation endorsed Crushing Blows. We'll see you there!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

EP: TO KILL A KING - WORD OF MOUTH

Hailing from London, To Kill A King may seem a little bit cliché on the surface. They formed at university in Leeds, and they wear the 'oh so hip' folk-rock-indie-pop label of so many of their peers - it might be easy for this delightful little band to wash over you altogether. Don't let them, there is a lot more ambition evident here than meets the eye, if latest EP 'Word of Mouth' is anything to go by.

If you heard To Kill A King on the radio, the sharp guitars coupled with Ralph Pelleymounter's croon may evoke a juxtaposition of Editors and Coldplay. However, put this EP through a decent set of headphones on a cold walk home, perhaps thinking of someone special, and it becomes clear that these guys have the potential to go far.

The EP kicks off with 'Howling'. Warm, bass filled synth flood the ears - quickly giving way to ambitious multi-instrumentation that will undoubtedly evoke thoughts of The National and delicate vocal harmonies that will pull at the heartstrings. Building to a powerful metallic climax, this really is a great start. Remarkably, To Kill A King ease into top gear on 'Funeral', with the intro easily adding shine to any Apple ad, giving way to a tour-de-force in really great song-craft.

Things slow down with 'Besides She Said', whereas 'Wolves' is a bright, catchy modern indie song with the obligatory anthemic chorus. Momentum builds once again with the brilliant 'Rays', which is rousing indie-pop at it's best, evoking the highlights of big hitters such as Bombay Bicycle Club. Intricate guitars are underpinned with a tight, flexible bass line and a masterful vocal performance from Pelleymounter, ending in a frantic flurry of drums and hi-hat. 

Closing track 'Let It Die' demonstrates the emotional maturity of the lyrics that run through the heart of this EP. "The saddest part of a broken heart isn't the end so much as the start" will remain with you long after the final chords fade away. 

Give me a broken heart any time if it means the start of something this special.