Author Archives: Jo Highfield

[Classic] AJ Ellis – Cheating the Czar

A J Ellis
Cheating the Czar

Have you ever put a Starburst in your mouth and tried not to chew it? It’s about as impossible as hearing this track and not saying Elvis Costello. The comparisons are aplenty and we shall not deviate. Unless it’s to say that also, British expat and NYC homed A.J. Ellis, is in possession of an exquisite swoon; not dissimilar to the likes of Roy Orbison, in his most crooning of moods.

New release ‘Cheating The Czar’, sees a 1950’s rock-a-billy-swing take precedent, in what is ultimately a seduction in the art of the unpretentious. A guitar-pop spectacle at its finest: think Ezra Furman, but replace the unhinged punk vibe with a bit of polish, and add an injection of the indie vein.

Touring with the likes of Albert Hammond Jr and The Strokes, saw early to mid 2000 success for Ellis’s former band Five O’Clock Heroes. Previously sweeping the shores of his UK homeland and conquering Europe and NYC alike, Ellis now sets his sails and embarks on solo ventures anew.

‘Cheating The Czar’ is cleverly tuneful, melodically mellifluous and flawless in its execution. Impeccable lyricism, dressed to impress and suited in swing. The upbeat soundscape contrasts, in a complimentary fashion, with a slightly yearning vocal.

There’s no better track than one decorated so simply, yet concealing a myriad of secret intelligence. A beautiful release, from this months full length debut album: ‘Bury The Devil’, ‘Cheating The Czar’, proves Ellis may just be, the balladeer of a new alt ballad.

Related items:

[Indie Rock] Yuck – Southern Skies

Southern Skies

Once grunge revivalists Yuck, turn their tact towards a more shoegaze (without the haze) era.

Lo-fi and consistently cyclic, the Americana element of slow burners past (“Shook Down” and “Suicide Policeman”), subside to dulcet tones and dejected mannerisms anew. Sparse and shimmering, “Southern Skies” exudes the impression of a long exhale. Resigned and anguished contemplation: the perfect accompaniment to sadness tinged strolls or wallowing walks.

Whilst Yuck startled us earlier today, with a surprise release of shoe-gaze inflicted, 4-track EP Southern Skies this heavy hearted title track is more ambling and atmospheric, than frantic or fuzzy.

Related items:

[NEW] Lykke Li – Gunshot

Lykke Li

In the spirit of Sweden, churning out the tunes, Lykke Li returns with another preview taken from forthcoming album, I Never Learn, set for release via LL/Atlantic Records on May 5th.

A long way from subtle symptoms of sadness, Lykke Li puts her heart where her mouth is; aligning nauseating melancholia with raw euphoria. Anguish overlaying a granular and chalky piano piece: “Gunshot” is lifted by its emotionally honest and variable vocal, echoing the vigorous yearning expressed circa 2011 track “Jerome.” Surprisingly, this version of desolation is dressed in danceable vibes, accompanied by a beat last spotted in 80’s power ballad rapture.

Existing alongside the energy is the sound of regretful affliction. Its pop sentiment subsiding to the poignant sing of ‘wide awake, while you’re not here’ and ‘I really loved you bad’ to the resonating sound of love lost, in the simplistic sentiment, ‘I’ll never get you back’.

The soundscape to your longing, “Gunshot” will open old wounds, and etch it’s meaning on anyone harbouring regretful and remorseful heart break.

You can find a stream for the single, along with its lyrics here.

Related items:

[Shoegaze] Colours – You Can’t See Me

You Can't See Me

It’s not often you hear the phrases ‘genre hybrid’ and ‘that went well’ united in an utterance. With his project Colours, Aussie born and London based producer Tom Crandles, may have issued a new era.

Shoe-gazy and hazy, new track ‘You Can’t See Me’ lacks the introspection of My Bloody Valentine, but is in possession of its woozy and dulcet mannerisms. Translucent yet focused, a melodic drive and grungy guitars, deftly navigate their way through an industrial soundscape. Exquisite synth sections and the dreamy-psych vocal simmer down a hooky euphoria and polish off perfection, with a wonderfully effortless vibe.

Double A-side digital single ‘You Can’t See Me’, is released on the 8th of April.

Related items:

[Indie] We Were Evergreen – False Start

We Were Evergreen
False Start

Less of a ‘False Start’, more of a new beginning: Parisian trio We Were Evergreen, have downed their twee toys and deliver a sparkling sense of misdirection with this adrenaline fueled release. No doubt the intoxicating spriteliness of ‘False Start’ mirrors its narrative inspiration: band member Michael sourced the idea from a Usain Bolt documentary.

Flip through the back catalogue and you’ll hear rumors of lo-fi, fizzy and quirky pop offerings; descriptions almost unaligned with the textured electro vibes and sleek vocals that peruse ‘False Start’. We Were Evergreen may be shaking their cute vibe and replacing it with something a bit more sassy.

Riding high off the back of a European tour (supporting Metronomy), sell out UK shows and notable nods from prestigious press (BBC 6 Music and The Guardian’s: Pick Of The Day), We Were Evergreen now embark on their own headline tour of the UK and pop in at Liverpool’s ‘Sound City’ Festival 2014, to strut and fret their hour upon the stage, with the likes of Wolf Alice and Albert Hammond Junior.

We’re not expecting Olympic stadiums, but we are suggesting big things.

Related items:

[Shoe Gaze] The Mary Onettes – Naive Dream

The Mary Onettes
Naive Dream

You say Sweden, I say ABBA. Well, gone are those days. Nordic noise has been making waves around European shores for quite some time. So have The Mary Onettes, since their debut EP emerged in 2005, to be precise.

Taken from their forthcoming mini-album Portico, out 4th of March: Naive Dream is pure shoe-gaze pleasure. With simmering ecstasies and a wall of woozy bliss, The Mary Onettes give hope to anyone with a hazy 80’s indie revival dream. Residues of Echo And The Bunnymen and all the distorted fizzyness of The Cure persist, but a beautiful ethereal fuzz is what prevails.

Related items:

[Indie Rock] Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

Cate Le Bon
He's Leaving

Cate Le Bon wasn’t unearthed at a 60’s psych/folk convention. She isn’t French, she didn’t write this track in a black and white Jim Jarmusch montage on the Left Bank of Paris. She isn’t the love child of Simon Le Bon and she didn’t find Nico alive and persuade her to cameo on ‘He’s Leaving’.

Cate Le Bon is in fact Welsh, and was recently quoted in the British press stating: ‘Nico and dead animals. I don’t think I’ll ever hear the end of them’. She probably won’t. Vocally, Cate
Le Bon channels quintessential Nico better than sometimes Nico. This has all the steady tempo and lo-fi charm of The Velvet Underground, circa ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’. A nod to
one of the most prestigious and defining albums of all time: never a bad thing.

Comparisons shouldn’t detract from what is an ornate and rare talent. Similarity aside, this graceful and uncluttered offering comprises of beautiful authenticity, poise and absolute effortlessness. Cool and composed, Le Bon sings with the most moving of sentiments, but encased in the sound of regretful simplicity.

‘He’s Leaving’ manages to reduce a vastness of emotion and spit it back at you, with the sort of raw and wistful force you just can’t dodge.

Related items: