Monday, 28 January 2013

ALBUM : WIHT - THE HARROWING OF THE NORTH

Stoner rock has always been the territory of the American yee-haw bands. Across the vast Atlantic however, the correlating British scene struggled to compete. We have grey skies and gloomy post-industrial towns, not sun soaked beaches and expansive deserts - our home grown contemporaries were always going to be different to their cowboy hat wearing cousins.

So when the now defunct, Leeds based, post-doom-sludge-whateverists Wiht decided to write an instrumental album about William the Conqueror ravaging the North of England, it was always going to be a distinctly English affair. Their final record, ‘The Harrowing of the North’ is a mere two tracks (plus a lengthy bonus track) but is a veritable epic of stoner rock enormity and post rock exploration. Each twist and turn in this capricious monster, from sparkling single notes, wailing guitars and tinkering cymbals to the gigantic, heavy, fuzzed out riffs and booming drums all serve as analogies for William’s marauding armies across the maudlin North, and events leading up to his remorseful deathbed 20 years later.

Wiht might have set themselves a staggering task writing such a record but they manage to convey drama in their music with such aplomb, the entire project is a seemingly effortless success.. ‘The Harrowing...’ is a joy to behold. A swerving, organic beast that you can’t take your ears off, intense and bursting with energy, doom-filled and ominous, it leaves you flabbergasted. This release, in the wake of Wiht’s demise, should be honoured in a fashion akin to the work of any deceased artist of note: with a reverence and awe becoming of a masterpiece, for this record is indeed fitting of such a lofty label. 

The Harrowing of the North’ is out 4th February on Devouter Records. // Wiht

Friday, 25 January 2013

SINGLE: IVORY SEAS - STILL BROODING / MOTHERS TONGUE

Tapping the ambient pop vein, Ivory Seas sew together melodic movement and musical minimalism to create atmospheric tracks ready for the deep icy stills of the British winter. Double A-side with "Mother's Tongue," 'Still Brooding' offers a musical chill with a sound truly evocative of the stillness of an icy landscape.

Ivory Seas, who met and got together at Southampton University, compare themselves to popular electronic minimalists such as Antlers and The XX. With their catchy stripped back melodies underlaid by cool ambient sound scattered with sparse yet bold instrumentals the comparison seems apt.

Stripping sound back to stillness without losing the upbeat vibe is what Ivory Seas do well. With clever use of instrumental space and silence - 'Still Brooding' has ambient sounds rolled over by clever drum beats courtesy of George Batham, sparse undistorted electronic guitar and wintery lyrics that add to the surreal poetics of the track.

'Mother's Tongue' makes great use of tubular bell/xylophone and deeply ambient backing vocals (Adam Heron and Thomas Walker) that transforms a standard bass/guitar/drum set up into something festive and melodic yet subtle and surreal, a dark watery sound that skilfully ripples the surface just enough to make you smile. // Ivory Seas // Buy 7" White Vinyl


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

EXCLUSIVE: ALCOPOP! Cat in a Hat 2013 Compilation #30

Alcopop! have been one of the most featured labels during the past 6 years of Music Liberation, so it was with much delight that the Oxford based record label recently got in touch about a unique mini compilation they had made for us (as well as one for each of the 49 other blogs that took part in the 'Blog Sound Of 2013'). 

The compilation showcases a brand new track from Stagecoach titled 'Threequel', who we picked up on back in 2009. Alongside the awesome music, there's also a picture of a cat (yeah, a cat, not a dog...), which each of the other blogs comps also featuring a different cat. That's nice right! So without further ado, here's Alcopop! compilation number 30, thanks guys! // Alcopop!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

SINGLE: MARIKA HACKMAN - BATH IS BLACK

Ahead of Marika Hackman's debut record in the form of the mini album 'That Iron Taste', she recently unveiled an acoustic video for the track 'Bath is Black'. It is the first in a series of acoustic videos for each of the albums tracks.

The album, produced by Alt-J's Charlie Andrew, is set to be released through Dirty Hit on 25th February, with Marika supporting the release with some gigs with Ethan Johns, as well as her own headline tour in March.

'Bath Is Black' is wonderfully refreshing in what can sometimes be a stale folk genre. Starting with some delightful guitar finger picking, its Marika's vocals and poignant lyrics which really stand out here. Her voice has a delicate yet somehow knowing quality which belies her tender years, and you can't help but get drawn into her spell of weaving guitar and floating vocals with the song even changing tempo mid track almost seamlessly. The video itself is shot in an old tunnel somewhere in the North of England, and although simple fits the nature of the track really well.

There are darker undertones throughout this song, a trait which you can't help feel will be repeated on the forthcoming album. That thought not only builds intrigue ahead of the albums release but also further enhances the reputation of someone who is rather quickly building a steadfast fan-base and critical opinion.  Marika Hackman // Dirty Hit

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

FUTURE SOUNDS OF 2013

In last years 'Future Sounds' post we tipped Hysterical Injury, Gabrielle Aplin, Daughter, LightGuides, Lucy Rose, and Pale Seas. Most of those acts went on to have a pretty good year, although in the case of Gabrielle Aplin we could never have predicted quite how good! 

This year's list once again features Daughter, not because they didn't have a fantastic 2012, but because their debut album is set to be released this year and we're quite sure it's going to be amazing and propel them onto even bigger and better things, so we're tipping them again! Similarly Keaton Henson appears, despite his first record coming out over 2 years ago, we just felt the spotlight should be shone once again on an artist who is just incredibly talented!


Daughter - We've been closely following Elena, Igor, and Remi, since we reviewed their 'Wild Youth' EP back in 2011. Now signed with 4AD Records, this year will see the release of their debut album which we're ever so excited about, as well as their biggest (sold out) show to date at the Hackney Empire.



Wolf Alice - Last Summer saw the release of the debut self titled EP from Wolf Alice, a 3 track soundscape of dreamy folk electronica, which felt really fresh and different. Since then two new singles have emerged, 'Leaving You' and this weeks' 'Fluffy', which are both more guitar based, but still maintain a clear intent to produce something challenging and interesting.


Ninetails - Their record 'Slept and Did Not Sleep' was our favourite EP of last year, so it's without doubt that we're looking forward to see what they can come up with in 2013. Catching them live is certainly on our to-do list!


Marika Hackman - Miss Hackman has a pretty busy 2012, with singles, live shows, and a stand out covers EP, and now there is the imminent arrival of her debut EP 'That Iron Taste', early this year. She's certainly very talented and we're sure her songwriting ability will shine through on the upcoming record.


Keaton Henson - Keaton Henson has been on our radar since we picked up his debut album 'Dear...' back in 2010. Last year saw a re-release of that album, as well as some interesting live shows in museums, and pop up tents around London, as well as collaborations and singles. Album number two is expected early this year and should propel Keaton onto a much wider audience.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

THE BLOG SOUND OF 2013 - THE TOP 5

The Blog Sound of 2013 poll is a survey of UK music bloggers to find out what emerging artists they think are best. The votes have been counted, the results are in and the winners can now be revealed.

Congratulations to the winners Haim, who narrowly held off runners up Chvrches by just 1 nomination.

The 5 artists that received the most votes by the 49 UK music blogs that took part in the poll are:- 

1st Haim
3rd= Savages
3rd= Pins