HAVVK – ‘Always The Same’

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Berlin-based Irish outfit HAVVK (formerly HAWK) are a formidable force of nature and self-evidently brilliant guitar band, and led by the charismatic Julie Hawk, they have a MASSIVE sound – this much is abundantly clear from the first few notes of new single ‘Always The Same’.

‘Always The Same’ is the first track lifted from HAVVK’s debut album – due out in the new year – and delivers an incredibly powerful and pulsating blast of vital, grunge-fueled indie-rock. Burning with frustration and fury, it thunders along hammering, bone-rattling percussion interspersed with sharp riffs, unrelenting guitar lines as Hawk’s stunning vocals enter the fray, rendering everything else secondary. The soaring power of Hawk’s vocal at its most intense charges to a cathartic climax that brings the house down around us. You can feel the frustration and the fury throughout – musically, lyrically and vocally – as the band expose female objectification by flipping it on its head, and in doing so deliver a fierce, uncompromising, pulsating and compelling tune.

You can listen to ‘Always The Same’ below and keep an eye out for the debut album come the new year.

The Hannah Barberas – ‘Oh Santa Claus!’

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Self-proclaimed “DIY pop partisans”, The Hannah Barberas – Damien, Lucy, Doug & Matthew – an indie-pop foursome from New Cross, London who’ve a knack for charming effervescent indie-pop gems; a rep confirmed by a slew of irresistible singles and EPs throughout the year.

The foursome have returned to see off 2018 with a new and festive minded EP called Christmas Bandwagon with all proceeds donated to Shelter; a charity working to combat homelessness and bad housing in the UK. The latest effort is fronted by ‘Oh Santa Claus!’ which is in keeping with their own tradition of catchy indie-pop jams. ‘Oh Santa Claus!’ sees their dreamy ’60s inspired jangle, met with a wee bit of Christmas sparkle and draped in tinsel. The festive theme is wrapped up in all woozy and breezy vibes and dripping with melody, and those harmonies, they are just a delight. An enchanting and addicting parcel of perfect pop-craft harmony,

You can listen to the cheerful ‘Oh Santa Claus!’ below and if that is to your liking, the EP is available from their Bandcamp, with all proceeds going to UK charity Shelter.

Joy Downer – ‘Plastic Wrap’

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Los Angeles-based Joy Downer aka husband and wife duo Joy and Jeff Downer have been building a rep for cooking up all manner of gorgeous indie-pop.

The creative chemistry between the pair is electric, as evidenced by buoyant, breezy and grooving previous single ‘Stranger Places’. The good news is, Joy Downer are back with a new track and it is just as incredibly addicting and deeply infectious as anything that has gone before it. A catchy-as-hell chorus, mesmerizing melody, seductive groove, lush synths, rhythmic guitars, and pulsing drum machines converge to leave us with a earworm piece of synthy indie-pop perfection. The vocals from Joy meanwhile are like a cool breeze on a hot day, cool, alluring and refreshing.

You’ll find yourself powerless to the infectious feel good vibes and be putting it on “repeat, repeat, repeat.” Get acquainted with ‘Plastic Wrap’ below:

Whyte Horses – ‘Next Year Will Be Mine’

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With their wonderfully uplifting and timeless record Empty Words, Manchester psych-pop outfit Whyte Horses produced one of 2018’s most enjoyable records, whisking us off to a land of blissful, dreamy psychedelia that sounds both familiar yet fresh.

With Christmas fast approaching, Whyte Horses have delivered one of the finest festive tunes in many a year in the shape of ‘Next Year Will Be Mine’. A superb piece of pop music, ‘Next Year Will Be Mine’ is a lush, joyous, hugely uplifting affair, adorned with sleigh bells, sumptuous harmonies, and lyrics sporting a message of hope and unbridled optimism. A magical, timeless and ridiculously catchy single with a cheery chorus that makes you want to sing along instantly.

You can check out Whyte Horses’ Christmas cracker below – and you should most definitely check out their latest album Empty Words here.

Spooky Cigarette – ‘In Due Time’

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‘In Due Time’ is the latest single from San Diego-based outfit Spooky Cigarette.

Formed in 2015, they are something of a pop music recycling plant, melting down bits and pieces from decades past (’60s, ’70s, ’80s & ’90s) and press it all into something new and rather exciting – something their new single ‘In Due Time’ will attest to. An upbeat, jaunty tune comprised of parts Motown, The Specials, Damon Albarn and, well, Spooky Cigarette. Resplendent with twangy guitars, pop melodies, hand-claps-a-plenty, peppy drums and hooks you could hang your coat on – it is simultaneously familiar yet fresh, and both catchy yet chilling. In Short, ‘In Due Time’ is a fantastic song – and one that’ll be going around your head all day.

Listen to ‘In Due Time’ below:

Fleur De Lys – ‘Sbecdol’

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Fleur De Lys are an indie-rock foursome from Anglesey and Morfa Nefyn, North Wales.

Performing in their native Welsh, they’re sound is unashamedly guitar wielding indie rock that flourishes with their catchy riffs, hooks like superglue and an ear for a seductive melody – and in turn make for brilliant songs.

Fleur De Lys were selected as part of the BBC Horizons Project in 2016 and released successful EPs in 2015 Bywyd Braf and 2016 Drysa, and they have an album already written, with more than half of it recorded – the first sample of which, comes in the shape of ‘Sbecdol’. The Anglesey outfit whip up a rock ‘n’ roll storm fueled by a surging energy and powerful, electrifying riffs, ‘Sbecdol’ is an infectious, up-tempo and strident slice of anthemic indie-rock, fueled by a surging energy and powerful, electrifying riffs. A sublime and scintillating slice of guitar wielding sorcery.

Tune in to ‘Sbecdol’ below – and keep an eye for that debut album in the new year.

Introducing: Seatbelts

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Formed over a drunken phone call between friends James Madden and Ryan Murphy – known for their work as Hooton Tennis Club – seeking an alternate name for The Beatles, and while jumbling the letters around Seatbelts poured forth.

With a name sorted, the pair set about recruiting Abigail Woods and Alex Quinn to complete the foursome and together the craft supremely addictive, smart contagious guitar pop that sounds simultaneously familiar and excitingly fresh. Back in May, Seatbelts released sublime debut EP Songs For Vonnegut, lead by single ‘Hey, Hey Tiger!’. A sharp, surreal, smart debut filled by an irresistible combination of off kilter riffs bubbling electronics and squelching guitar effects.

The Liverpool outfit have returned with a new single ‘Content Crush’ to sign off on 2018 on a high. A charming, warm and contagious guitar pop song, dreamy, swaying melodies mingle with lush instrumentation, rich with brass, woodwind, keys, bubbling bass and hazy guitar. ‘Content Crush’ is a mellow, warm and feel-good rush that culminates with a swelling and memorable chorus. Not only is the tune a doozy but it offers a gentle but valuable reminder that at a time when cynicism is as rife as zero-hour contracts, and it seems our only solution is to dive back into our screens: it’s OK to switch off for a while.

‘Content Crush’ will appear on a forthcoming new EP called Please Slow Down, which Seatbelts are working on at the moment – although there is not release date yet.

Listen to ‘Hey, Hey Tiger!’ & ‘Content Crush’ below – and why don’t you check out their debut EP here?