Sons Of Zöku – ‘Luz / Paralysed’

Adelaide psych-rock trio Sons Of Zöku – Ricardo Da Silva, Ica Quintela and Jordan Buck – have been making a name for themselves, and their free-flowing, energetic and colourful explorations of psych, in their native Australia.

Previous single ‘Dead Poets’ – a 2019 standout and absolute a force of nature – is pretty typical of their wares and they kicked off 2020 in similarly sensational form with double a-side ‘Luz / Paralysed’. The former is a hypnotic haze of colourful kaleidoscopic sounds, propelled by a swirling groove and propulsive rhythm and adorned with dazzling guitars, sitar lush effects as dreamy, hushed vocals glide above, dripping with melody, it is utterly consuming and transfixing. It’s companion ‘Paralysed’ meanwhile, is less melodic and dreamy and more frantic, propulsive and energetic. Guitars twang and sitars sing again but they play second fiddle to the more feverish vocals that breathlessly aim to keep pace with the winding rhythmic grooves as it teems through a sea of feedback, distortion and riffs. Sons Of Zöku have once again struck a balance between thunderous noise and subtle sweetness, and in doing so delivered yet another masterclass in psych-rock.

Tune in to ‘Luz / Paralysed’ below:

The Orielles – ‘Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme)’

The Orielles announced their second album Disco Volador back in October with the release of lead single ‘Come Down On Jupiter’.

Given that their debut Silver Dollar Moment was one of 2018’s finest records, there is quite a bit of excitement around its follow-up and thankfully with Disco Volador due next month, the psych-pop foursome have shared a second single ‘Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme)’.

It is five minutes of sleek, neon bright and danceable indie-disco drawing its seductive allure from an irresistible blend of disco, tropicalia, indie, psych, and of course, samba. Fuelled by a insatiable pop danceablility, ‘Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme)’ is a  terrifically catchy and infectious jam oozing with colourful spirit and buoyant energy. It grooves along with a confident strut through funk-fuelled hooks, cowbells aplenty pulsating electrified cheeps and chirps, with Esmé’s syrupy-sweet and relaxed vocals juxtaposed with the relentless groove, dancey beats and swirling, psychedelic haze. This is pure indie-pop heaven, so addictive is it, it should come with a health warning.

Disco Volador is out 2/28 on Heavenly. Get in on it below.

Lauran Hibberd – ‘Bang Bang Bang’

Lauran Hibberd has been charming us with irresistible blasts of fuzz-filled indie pop for a while now and the Isle Of Wight native has kicked off 2020 with style with new single ‘Bang Bang Bang’.

Following on from 2019 debut EP Everything is Dogs, ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is of similar pedigree; fizzy with guitar-pop brilliance. With driving guitars, hooks you could hang a hat on and sing-along chorus set against layers of endearing fuzz and distortion, ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is Hibberd’s catchiest and most anthemic song yet. Hibberd has carved out a rep for super catchy and fuzz-filled guitar-pop heroics and even taking a cursory glance at her output over the past 12 months, it is easy to see why. It has been one solid gold tune after another, and ‘Bang Bang Bang’ is as good as any of them.

Check out ‘Bang Bang Bang’ below and if you like what you hear, there is plenty more where that came from here.

Yammerer – ‘Seasons 13-31’

Liverpool-based outfit Yammerer are a band with a preference for sharp, angular, high-energy, unhinged and raucous psych-punk fury.

Their audacious, boisterous and snarling sonic adventures are there for all to see (and hear) on their debut EP Reality Escape Resort, released toward the close of 2019. Forged from a swell of free-flowing psychedelia and hammered out in an incandescent rage, the EP is a whirlwind of off-kilter, frenzied psych-punk and none more so than ‘Seasons 13-31’. It is a nine-minute spectacular; a highly charged cacophony of pent up post-punk fury. A hyperactive frenzied blitz of bone rattling drums, furious, jerky guitars, buzzing riffs and spiralling effects, with frenzied vocals uncoiling above. A stunning intro to the Liverpool-based five-piece, it is a chaotic, wild and arresting jam.

You can listen to ‘Seasons 13-31’ below and the debut EP is here too

Happy Out – ‘Deadhead 2’

Happy Out are a post-punk trio from Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and are noise-makers supreme.

The trio have just released their debut EP Is, Was, Wasn’t, and oh my, it is a serious statement of intent. It is a powerful, potent and buzzing blast of scuzzy indie-rock/post-punk alchemy. A proverbial kick in the bollocks if you like, taking in post-rock, indie, post-punk and pure unadulterated noise, single ‘Deadhead 2’ leads the fuzzed-up charge. Vocals roar to heard above a thunderous concoction of fuzzed-up, rampaging guitars, soaring riffs and barrelling barrage of loud, pounding drums – and all drenched in fuzz and distortion. ‘Deadhead 2’ is a phenomenon; a rampaging riff-fuelled monster – hold on to your hats.

Listen to ‘Deadhead 2’ below and the EP here.

Elsa Lester – ‘Sweet Ghost Inc.’

Elsa Lester, aka Lisa van Kampen, is a Dutch singer/songwriter with a penchant for no-frills guitar-pop.

2017 debut Stress Relief – written, recorded and produced in her bedroom – and 2018 Dinner Party EP established her as a real talent for catchy-as-can-be fuzzed-up guitar-pop. Good news folks; Elsa Lester is back with a new single, with an EP to follow. ‘Sweet Ghost Inc.’ is a bright, upbeat and breezy bout of divine indie-pop as it skips by with a jaunty vibe amid layers of lush fuzz and mild distortion. It is melodic and filled with hooks you could hang your hat on while hushed, honeyed vocals deliver a juxtaposed tale of struggle with insecurity and self-doubt. It is, as we’ve become accustomed to with Elsa Lester, an irresistibly infectious fuzz-filled wee earmworm that’ll be fizzing around your head for days and days.

The forthcoming EP Back From Vacation is expected soon – for now, there is plenty to enjoy below:

City Victim – ‘Screaming’

City Victim are an Irish alt-rock band currently based out of Galway who since forming in early 2019, spent the year drip feeding singles – four in fact – and they are kicking off 2020 with their best release to date; ‘Screaming’. 

‘Screaming’ echoes the style of previous but sees a further evolution of their sound. While channelling classic post-punk influences – Television, Wire and The Cure – combined with more contemporary bands such as Interpol and Beach Fossils, the single is fleshed into a bold and peerless bout of slowburning aggression that thrives on the darker side of post punk. Amid the intensity, ‘Screaming’ is a real groover as it swaggers along driving, meaty basslines with layers of shimmering guitars keeping pace with the burrowing rhythm as hushed yet passionate vocals float stridently above. It is a huge tune, and one that wields a mighty power, and is utterly brilliant.

Listen to ‘Screaming’ below. City Victim will hit the road in February / March for a tour with the great Eoin Dolan, Dylan Murph and Sheepy – dates below.

01/02 Craft Taproom, Liverpool
02/02 Stamps (Crosby)
21/02 Pharmacia, Limerick
12/03 Roisin Dubh, Galway
13/03 Sin E, Dublin

Guest Post: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2019

Aside from compiling my own lists, I really enjoy looking over other people’s albums of the year rundowns and none more so than Mr. Johnny Feeney.

An insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and bring added flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading his contributions – of which, surely I’m not alone?

Yes, we’re a bit late with this one but sure better late than never, right?

A huge thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his favourite records of 2019.

10: DIIV – ‘Deceiver’

Following up 2016’s supreme Is the Is Are, Brooklyn shoegaze quartet DIIV’s third album Deceiver draws obvious comparisons to My Bloody Valentine with its multiple layers of shimmering, squalling guitars and lead singer Zachary Cole Smith’s dreamy vocals. Expect plenty of loud / quiet / loud moments on this dazzling return.

Listen in full here.

09: Hot Chip – ‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’

Although their newer material has perhaps lost some of the menace of their early output, ultra-consistent Hot Chip prove they are still adept at releasing dance-pop of the highest calibre. A perfect antidote to the grim global political and environmental situation we find ourselves in today, I challenge anyone to listen to the likes of ‘Positive’ or ‘Melody of Love’ and not feel a wave of joy wash over you.

Listen in full here.

08: Black Midi – ‘Schlagenheim’

The Mercury-nominated debut album from this four-piece experimental-rock band hailing from London is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste. From the brutal opening salvo of ‘953’ to the wonderful closer ‘Ducter’, this relentless record is one that never lets go. A highly ambitious record, understandably it doesn’t always quite come together. But when it does hit the mark it’s absolutely thrilling. Improvised mayhem never sounded so good.

Listen in full here.

07: Marika Hackman – ‘Any Human Friend’

The latest LP from Marika Hackman certainly has a much more pop-leaning sound than her early fans would expect from the English singer-songwriter. Hackman’s usual vocals and guitar lines are regularly joined by jaunty synths to create upbeat tunes merged with deeply personal lyrics exploring themes such as same-sex relationships (‘All Night’) and masturbation (‘Hand Solo’). The jaw-dropping title track that closes the album is beyond staggering.

Listen in full here.

06: Drahla – ‘Useless Coordinates’

This bludgeoning debut record from Leeds post-punk outfit Drahla comes with driving guitars, a pummelling rhythm section, and Luciel Brown’s breathy vocals. Viciously, skewed saxophones add to the overall sombre atmosphere. Clocking in at a breathless half an hour, Useless Coordinates starts off dark and doesn’t veer off course once.

Listen in full here.


05: Mattiel – ‘Satis Factory’

The highly accomplished second album from the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter prominently features Mattiel Brown’s distinctive, booming vocals and some delightful, grooving and soulful blues-rock. Brown has an uncanny ability to create expertly crafted sub three-minute rock songs with an infectious hook. A very impressive piece of work.

Listen in full here.

04: The Murder Capital – ‘When I Have Fears’

The superb debut album from the Dublin post-punk five-piece is a moody, atmospheric affair. Brooding, menacing guitars and percussion are paired to pulsating effect with the haunting, angst-ridden vocals of lead singer James McGovern. A formidable live act, the group’s sound has been captured masterfully on record by UK producer Flood. Along with Fontaines DC and Girl Band, the Murder Capital are at the forefront of an exciting wave of great new Irish rock bands.

Listen in full here.

03: Aldous Harding – ‘Designer’

New Zealand folk artist Aldous Harding’s third studio album is the epitome of easy listening – nine tracks of blissful, exquisitely arranged songs. Harding’s tender vocals are accompanied by multiple layers of instrumentation and backing vocals to devastating effect throughout. A gorgeous album that gets better with every listen.

Listen in full here.

02: Vampire Weekend – ‘Father of the Bride’

After a six year hiatus and losing a key member in multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij back in 2016, Vampire Weekend fans could be forgiven for worrying if maybe this was the beginning of the end for the New York indie-poppers. Instead Ezra Koenig re-emerged with an exceptionally strong set of tracks, enlisting the help of the likes of Danielle Haim on vocals and guitarist Steve Lacy. The result is an immensely enjoyable, if overlong, album.

Listen in full here.

01: Fontaines DC – ‘Dogrel’

The eagerly awaited debut of Dublin punk rock quintet Fontaines DC delivers emphatically on every level. An extremely diverse and lyrical record, lead singer Grian Chatten’s miniature vignettes of Dublin City are accompanied by an ever-changing soundtrack from the rest of the group. From the piledriving punk of ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ to the jangling stomp of ‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Boys in the Better Land’ via the tender ‘Roy’s Song’ and ‘Dublin City Sky’, not a single foot has been put in the wrong place. In a new Golden Age of Irish guitar music, it’s the Fontaines DC’s star who’s shining brightest at the moment.

Listen in full here.

Cuesta Loeb – ‘Immerse Inverse’

‘Immerse Inverse’ is the new single from NYC native Cuesta Loeb

Currently residing in LA, Loeb explores a love of dark, haunting melodies with dreamy, ethereal instrumentation and vocals, and in doing so, creates a brand of beautiful, layered and dark shoegaze indebted alt-rock all of her own. This approach is captured with spellbinding precision on the new single; and it is all-out bombast from the off. Powered by a relentless surging rhythmic energy and wall-of-sound, ’90s-styled shoegaze, ‘Immerse Inverse’ goes all in on powerful, layers of guitars, which come in wave after wave interspersed with meaty bassline and snappy drums that are matched by taut, twisting chords. Amid this admittedly massive whirring wave of fuzz and distortion, there is a sweetness; due to the understated melody of Loeb’s hushed, honeyed voice. And like that, it is over, and you’ll be reaching to repeat.

A surging, electrified blast of fuzz and distortion fuelled anthemic brilliance – tune in below:

Hippies vs Ghosts – ‘Tarw’

January can be a bit of a dour month to be fair but for all the reported new year blues, there is always plenty of new music and forthcoming album news to lift the spirits and new Hippies vs Ghosts – that is something special. 

Regular patrons of the blog will be well acquainted how highly thought of Hippies Vs Ghosts are around these parts. Under this guise, Owain Ginsberg, has routinely blown us away with his exhilarating,kaleidoscopic, Morricone meets krautrock sound.

Ginsberg has returned with his first new material since 2018’s No Left No Right, with ‘Tarw’. The single continues the evolution of his kaleidoscopic pallet that emerged on the aforementioned record; offering a less frantic, fevered and frenetic side to his sound. ‘Tarw’ is delivered with a slower tempo and is unusually very vocal, powerful and passionately delivered vocal, which combine amid a sea swirling atmospheric tones, spooky feedback and twangy riffs, and fuelled by seductive psych rhythms. ‘Tarw’ is yet another stunning Hippies vs Ghosts jam, and one that indicates the continued evolution and experimentation from a unique and enigmatic talent.

While there is no word on whether a new album is set to follow but here is hoping we see a new Hippies vs Ghost record in 2020.