Applescal – ‘Airports’

applescal for 2015

Following 2013’s rather brilliant Dreaming In Key, Dutch producer Applescal aka Pascal Terstappen is set to return with a new LP in May on his Atomnation label.

The first taster from said album is new single, ‘Airports’, suggesting an evolution of sorts. Dreamy synths float above a bright and airy dance beat and sunny chimes, as he embracing slightly cheerier and brighter take on his signature ambient techno and electronica. In doing so, Terstappen has distilled (for me at least) a really vibrant summery air. The almost semi-Balearic moments, sunny chimes and electro grooves etch out a sense of excitement for summer days and nights to come, while whipping up a sense of nostalgia for those long sine gone. An overwhelmingly deep, immersive and intimate listening experience, it is a spine-tingling magical promise of things to come. Things are certainly shaping up nicely for the new record.

You can check ‘Airports’ out below now. Applescal’s new album album For will be released on May 18th via Atomnation.

Cian Ciarán – ‘Stand Up’ (Feat. Stephen Morrison-Burke)

Super Furry Animals may have announced their return, but if anyone was worried this might spell the end for the various fantastic solo projects, rest assured, in the case of Super Furry synth wizard Cian Ciarán, it does not.

News finds us that Cian Ciarán has recorded a protest album alongside former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason, and poets Stephen Morrison-Burke and Hollie McNish. The as-yet-untitled album will be released this summer, and will be preceded by a series of singles that will coincide with the run up the UK general election. Ciarán is no stranger to political territory. His last LP, They Are Nothing Without Us, one of 2013’s finest, was a ‘protest album’ taking to task the elites, bankers, politicians and big corporations who perpetuate the inequalities between the haves and have nots. It was spiky, angry but with shades of sweetness and a sparkling ability for a pop song sewn in; a perfect balance of politics and pop.

First up from the new project is ‘Stand Up’, a synth-splashed rap-state of the nation address, featuring last year’s National Poetry Slam Champion Stephen Morrison-Burke, it castigates those in power, lambasting the attacks on the vulnerable in society, dissolution of social support services and privatisation of the NHS. Backed by shuffling beats and permeated with overwhelmingly optimistic and positive vibe, it rises to a triumphant call to action and overthrow apathetic minds. It’s a really sweet and playful tune that embraces that time honored reggae / ska tradition of having glossy and easy on ear records that still say something. Enticing stuff indeed.

You can check out ‘Rise Up’ below. And worth checking out too is Ciarán’s piece in The Guardian, on why Pop Needs To Get Political Again.

Telegram – ‘Inside Out’

In the past 18 months or so, London-based psych-rock outfit Telegram have featured on here a number of times, providing scintillating excitement on each occasion.

Telegram return with a new one-off single, only their second official release in fact, ‘Inside Outside’ is set for release on 9th March via the Speedy Wunderground label. The premise of the Speedy process is admirable; songs are recorded in 24 hour sessions and mixed the following day, with no one getting to hear it until it arrives back on vinyl – watch a short documentary about the label here. It is a process that lends itself rather well to their style of psych-rock. Although ‘Inside Outside’ is more straight-up ‘psych-indie’ than previous efforts, as the glam-motorik elements take more of a backseat, it is still supercharged, frenetic and tight with an essence of freewheeling, spontaneity. Accompanying the single is B-side, ‘Mr Dan’s Inside Out Dub’; a dub remix which strips back the original, turns it ‘inside-out’ and adding loads of dubby sounds, riddims and waves of haunting echoes.

Telegram’s effort is taken from a forthcoming compilation – a second from the Wunderground label. Listen to ‘Inside Out’ below.

Django Django – ‘Reflections’

Django Django really burst onto the scene back in 2012 with their excellent self-titled debut LP, that remains a firm favourite. On May 5th, they will return with their much anticipated second album, Born Under Saturn.

In preparation they’ve played a handful of UK dates, previewing material from the forthcoming record and also treated our ears to the wonder that was ‘First Light’. And now they’ve shared another song — ‘Reflections’ – a thumping, house-inflected twist on that trademark Django Django sound. Wonderful vocal harmonies float above a relentless, surging pulse and dance beat, and just wait for that super smooth sax solo. This is a glimmering, shiny stomper – most importantly another cracking insight to what we might expect from the new record.

You can find ‘Reflections’ below, while you will have to wait till May 5th for Born Under Saturn, out via Ribbon Music.

Celebrating 5 Years of BarryGruff with ‘GruffWuff': A 19 Track Compilation Album [Out Now]

So, the day has finally arrived; ‘GruffWuff‘ is out now!

I’ve been itching to share this with everyone and I very, happy this day has finally arrived. The past five years have been very interesting and for the most part, ever so much fun. I think this is a pretty special way to mark the occasion and I really hope you all enjoy the compilation as much as I do. Initially I thought an idea such as this was just a pipe dream and one that would remain just that. However, the enthusiasm that met my initial inquiries bowled me over, I couldn’t believe how eager everyone was. It is something that’ll stay with me forever and it means an awful lot. Hopefully it will shine a light, brief as it maybe on some of the acts that have brought me the most joy over the past few years.

Thanks to Stevie for all his assistance, Caroline for all her support and putting up with me, Peter Lee for mastering & all the artists who provided tracks for the compilation. A huge amount of credit must go to the artists involved for their eagerness and the ever so brilliant music.

So, to mark 5 years of BarryGruff, here is ‘GruffWuff'; a 19 track compilation of new, previously unreleased and exclusive recordings from some of my very favourite acts over the past 5 years of blogging. There is an act by act guide after the jump, I really hope everyone enjoys this as much as we did putting it together.

It’s yours now, just ‘name your price’ – which includes zero, so technically it’s free.

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O Emperor – ‘Switchblade’

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Wateford band, O Emperor have released a new Lizard EP, continuing with the high standards of their last LP, Vitreous.

Lead track ‘Switchblade’ displays all the nuances of what you would expect from a band on the top of their game. A tenacious piece of indie-rock, it is delivered with plenty of swing and swagger. A mix of shimmer guitars combine with garage riffs, infectious rhythm and soulful blues-tinged vocals that make O Emperor so instantly recognisable. Yet another affirmation of their brilliance as a band, fast becoming one of Ireland’s finest.

You can check out ‘Switchblade’ below & buy Lizard from Bandcamp.

Crocodiles – ‘Crybaby Demon’

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With five albums since 2009, yes five, Crocodiles don’t really leave us to long waiting for new material do they?

They have emerged from their longest period of quiet, since they released Crimes of Passion in 2013, which isn’t too long really, bursting back into view with ‘Crybaby Demon’. Taken from their forthcoming album BOYS, ‘Crybaby Demon’ is a real groover, drenched in Crocodiles-style reverb, but one that you could most definitely shake your hips to, if you wanted to. Self-described as “salsa-punk”, this is Crocodiles at their most playful, but with a certain kick to the jangle and swagger. Crocodiles sound is always full on vitalized and immediately attention grabbing, ‘Crybaby Demon’ certainly keeps up that trend.

Check it out for yourself below. Their forthcoming album BOYS is out on May 12th via Zoo Music. Also, Crocodiles play Vancouver’s ‘Venue’ on May 26th.

Stealing Sheep – ‘Not Real’

Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep – Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer – have a new album coming out in mid April.

Entitled Not Real, it follows their 2012 slow-burning but splendid debut, Into the Diamond Sun, and the first single to be released is title track, ‘Not Real’. As much psych as folk, experimentation was never ever far away, and it is this trait which manifests itself once again (albeit in a different form). Imbued with a dreamlike surrealism, ‘Not Real’ is utterly contagious. An addictive and instantly memorable chorus combines with sunny melodies and a bouncy, strutting rhythm, for what is a colourful mix of electronic music and ’80s pop, incorporating synthesizers and drum machines to their sweet and heavenly voiced psych-pop. A tantalizingly marvelous listen. The song’s video is an equallt surreal and colourful trip, check it out below.

Stealing Sheep’s Not Real is out April 14 via Heavenly.

Tandem Felix – ‘Nothing I Do Will Ever Be Good Enough’

 

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Dublin four-piece Tandem Felix are set to release new EP ‘Comma’ via Trout Records.

Having wooed us over the past few years with a number of lush, sweeping and soft indie tracks, the first taster from their forthcoming EP, ‘Nothing I Do Will Ever Be Good Enough’ offers a slightly different side to the band. Apparently brought about by a period of transition and a lineup change, Tandem Felix’s new single ‘Nothing I Do Will Ever Be Good Enough’, is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s a mellow, lilting indie-rock number, distilled with a breezy country vibe, while retaining the elegant facets of what made them an attractive proposition to begin with. A simply wonderful song.

Tandem Felix’s new EP Comma, is due on April 27th through Trout Records. The new single is below and you can also head to Soundcloud and check out their already impressive catalogue.

By The Sea – ‘At Your Window’

By The Sea - Photo credit - Andrew Ab

Taken from By The Sea‘s second album, Endless Days, Crystal Sky, ‘At Your Window’ is a timely and perfect opportunity to remind the world of the virtues of both the Merseyside quintet, and their wonderful 2014 record.

Synth steeped ‘At Your Window’ offers probably the greatest departure from the band’s signature melodic guitar pop sound. Essentially a duet between Liam Power and Minnetonka, it revolves around a sparse synth pulse and illuminated by subtle, sizzling electronic beats, that combine to convey a deep intimate and wistful air. Taken from the same record, ‘Youth, has kindly just available for free download. A bubbling bass combines with subtle synth, gorgeous melody and drifting, dreamlike atmospherics, that are altogether more akin to By The Sea’s signature sound. A simply super band, if you haven’t checked out either their self-titled debut or Endless Days, Crystal Sky, you should. You do a whole lot worse.

You can check out ‘At Your Window’ and the rather grand video for ‘Youth’ by Dom Foster, below. Download it here.

Photo credit: Andrew Ab.