By CoCo Wong on Wednesday, 4th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
Featuring three Frenchmen and one mademoiselle, Mondrian are a very interesting pop band from Paris. The three Frenchmen are Roman, Morning Crash and Cyrille, singing, rocking out on guitars and banging on drums, respectively. The mademoiselle is Demoiselle, who plays synths. The band have released two EPs so far, ‘Pop Shop’ and ‘Whippersnapper’, the latter released this past Monday. Mondrian are very easy-listening and they never fail to cheer me up after a long day.
‘Tofu Farmer’ from ‘Pop Shop’ released in August 2010 caught my attention immediately for obvious reasons – for one, can you possibly grow tofu (aka beancurd) on a farm? ‘Tofu Farmer’ is very light and joyful. Another track called ‘Last Breakfast on Planet Surf’ is the shortest track on ‘Pop Shop’. Short but ace, the piano on ‘Last Breakfast on Planet Surf’ is very bouncy and this song reminds me of the arrival of summer.
The title track of their second EP, ‘Whippersnapper’, opens in a fairly quirky way with synths and then progresses something really enjoyable. The guitar on this track is much softer, yet everything goes really well together.
Relaxing and easy to listen to, Mondrian are what you need for summer 2011.
By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 27th April 2011 at 12:00 pm
I think I may be mixing up BBC radio presenters and band names, because for some reason I thought I’d heard the band name Tom Williams and the Boat from Tom ’2-4-6-8-Motorway’ Robinson on 6music. Whoever I heard about them from (now that I think about it, was probably Steve Lamacq), doesn’t matter. How many unsigned bands do you know who have had their songs playlisted on 6music? Turns out this band is the first ever to accomplish this feat. Definitely time to take a closer look (err…listen).
The band have a new single out on the 9th of May, ‘Concentrate’, which you can stream below. Hmmm. Jangly guitars. Lead vocals with a darkness akin to Tom Smith of Editors? Possibly a slight folky bent ala Frank Turner? I haven’t heard their first but well-received album ‘Too Slow’, so I’m just going on this one single. The song is apparently about the inner thoughts of a home-grown suicide bomber (that should bring chills down your spine); not exactly normal pop song fodder, is it? Then again, sometimes you can just tell that some bands aren’t run of the mill. That’s the feeling I get with this Kent band.
At just 22 years of age, Brooklyn songstress Alana Stewart was discovered busking on the New York subway. Since then she has been signed by London indie record label Chess Club, who are gearing up to release her new single ‘Momma Says’ on the 27th of June. Since the start of 2011, she has been finding her feet in the UK and has garnered attention from BBC 6Music and Radio 1′s Steve Lamacq. Despite her rise in popularity in our fair isle, she is continuing to busk in the subway.
‘Momma Says’ is an homage to teenage girls everywhere. Struggling with growing up and wanting to rebel, but should you listen to your mother? In a Kate Nash-style, one-woman show, Alana Stewart is a great example of a female singer/songwriter who has a real passion for her music. Armed with a guitar, a piano and a unique voice, Stewart is destined to go far.
Her track ‘When The Wind Blows’ is almost 3 minutes of lo-fi, twee, acoustic loveliness. The sound at times is reminiscent of Warpaint, the simple guitar and drums combo keeps you focused on the vocals which can be both powerful and delicate. Imagine the whole Juno soundtrack rolled into one musician, and you’ve got Alana Stewart. With her fantastic vocal range and musical talent, coupled with her passion, it’s hard not to be impressed with a woman who could be the hottest property in acoustic music everywhere. Still not convinced? Watch her in action in the video for ‘Perfervid’ below.
If you’re a fan of the underground UK punk scene, you must surely be aware of the King Blues. The politically active ska punk five-piece have been skanking, protesting and chanting their way all over the world to deliver their message of unity and solidarity.
Influenced by the likes of the Clash, Public Enemy and the Specials, the King Blues have been likened to bands such as Sonic Boom Six and the Skints. Their debut album ‘Under The Fog’ was released in 2006 and created a cult following for the north Londoners almost instantly. Featuring such political anthems as ‘The Sound Of Revolt’ and ‘Chimp In A 3-Piece Suit’, the message of the band was clear – the country is fucked. The single ‘Mr. Music Man’ was also voted best punk song of the year by Radio1 in 2006.
Over the past 5 years, the band have expanded from a group of radicals to a band with a voice: a voice which is echoed by people all over the country. Despite being best known for their poppier ‘Save The World, Get The Girl’, it’s the King Blues’ lesser-known tracks that the band really flourish. Lead vocalist Itch can make you think more about politics in a three-minute song than a three-hour law lecture.
Their upcoming album, ‘Punk & Poetry’ is set for release on the 18th of April. The band released its first single, ‘Headbutt’, last year and released their new single ‘Set The World On Fire’ this past Sunday (promo video below). Judging by the single, the band have got more to say about the state of the UK, the class system and the government. A call which their fans will heed in their thousands.
Glasgow has seen a number of indie bands form in the past few years including Glasvegas, Dananananaykroyd and Frightened Rabbit. Now it sees host to something new: Three Blind Wolves, a four piece who state their influences as “the great outdoors” and who write beautiful music. They’ve just signed to Communion Records.
It’s hard to pin this band down to sounding like something. If I were one for pigeonholing I would say that they are a lot like, well, any indie band that has come out of the UK in the last 2 years. But I think I would be selling this band short if I did so. There is something quintessentially different about this band: you can hear a hint of bluegrass, a touch of folk, but overall a hell of a lot of balls. When I first listened to ‘Emily Rose’ (which you can listen to and download for your very own below), I thought to myself, have Mumford and Sons completely changed what they are going for, or have I discovered something very different? With the crest of the new folk phase of last year almost over, maybe Three Blind Wolves have arrived a bit late to latch on to the hype.
They go from sounding a lot like an early Bombay Bicycle Club to sounding like fellow Glaswegians Dananananaykroyd, and that’s just in one song. The use of four-part harmonies are fantastic and really give the music a sense of atmosphere. It’s obvious that this band would not look out of place plying their trade around campfires, or on a stage at Glastonbury. That said, there is still a long way for this band to go, they definitely need exposure and to get that they may have to go down the Mumford and Sons route of massive choruses and banjos! What is in store for them next? Well, that’s for us to wait and see.
By CoCo Wong on Thursday, 24th March 2011 at 12:00 pm
Fancy some percussion-induced music? Look no further: Islet from Wales will definitely give you a minty fresh feeling about percussion-based music. This quartet were formed by four very talented multi-instrumentalists, Emma, Mark, AL and JT. They often switch their instruments around from song to song, thus creating an experimental sound. Three-quarters of the band play drums, so you should be able to tell from their songs that they’re pretty drums-orientated. In addition to their dislike of the internet (the band have been known to send around homemade publications by snail mail), the band is known for their amazing live set, which is not hard to imagine given their percussion-heavy sound.
Having released two mini albums, ‘Celebrate This Place’ and ‘Wimmy’, the band are now writing their debut full-length album. The first Islet song I’ve ever heard was ‘We Shall Visit’ (video below), from ‘Celebrate This Place’. At first, I found their genre a bit weird. But after you’ve given it another listen, you’ll just go “wow!” and be amazed by the band’s creativity and uniqueness. They are fun, and rather raw-sounding. None of their songs sound alike one another. Each of their tracks takes you on a journey of its own kind. To a certain extent, I think Islet have kind of created their own genre as they are rather hard to classify.
‘Holly’, one of my favourite Islet tracks, is extremely wild and somehow extreme. I t has a tinge of heavy metal essence in it, owing to the drums and the vocals. I especially adore the part after the break, at which time the whole song goes mental. Be warned though, this song is rather like marmite, you either love it or hate it. On the lesser extreme side sound-wise, ‘Ringerz’ is another great track by the band, not as heavy as ‘Holly’. With a rather subtle start, the track then is given more depth with the joining of various kinds of percussion. The video for this track is worth mentioning, with its real life animation featuring a lot of low-fi and slow-motion clips with bright colours. I enjoyed every second of the video as much as I do with the song.
Islet has been announced for Primavera in Spain and Bestival and will no doubt be gracing other stages this summer.