TOLEDO – ‘Qué Pasa?’

0b34f20a1d40dece59af192af208d6a0421fc1c5

Revolving around the Brooklyn-based pairing of Dan Alvarez and Jordan Dunn, Toledo have have drip-feeding us charming delights from their forthcoming debut album over the past while, and bewitching us in the process.

The good news is Toledo will release their aforementioned debut, HotStuff in March and the latest single lifted from it, is without question the best yet. ‘Qué Pasa?’ is a heartfelt, lush and melodic slice of indie-folk delight. Dripping with melody as hushed, lilting vocals flow gently on by amid a sea of richness and warmth, flourishes of soft drums and state of tranquillity. ‘Qué Pasa?’ proves Toledo the masters of hook, harmony and heart. It is one of those songs, filled with such heartfelt beauty, glowing with warmth and marked by just the right amount of melancholy, that will leave you unable to resist its allure but all the better for it. An absolute joy!

Listen to ‘Qué Pasa?’ below and keep an eye out for the debut record come March.

Introducing: Los Blancos

24067918_1785132131783923_4369428415056929726_n

Los Blancos are slacker/garage-rock foursome from Carmarthenshire, South West Wales.

A band bonded in friendship, Gwyn, Dewi, Emyr and Osian have known each other since school days, there is a quiet, understated confidence underpinning Los Blancos’s ’90s inspired garage sound. Drawing inspiration from the slanted sounds of Pavement, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the playfulness of Mac Demarco their songs are simultaneously gloomy yet hopeful and sun-kissed.

Sung in their native Welsh, Los Blancos’ scuzzy, fuzz-filled sound mutates somewhat between each release. ‘Cadi‘ is a ragged hook-filled rattle revolving around frenetic riffing and insistent percussion that combine in a languid, very Velvet Underground kind of way. With ‘Chwarter I Dri’ the melodic meanderings and ramblings are punctuated by soaring riffs, melodies and towering vocals while ‘Cadw Fi Lan’ offers a hazy meander sojourn to warm and swooning sliding guitar-led alt-country meets lo-fi indie. Aside from their native tongue and dash of garage fuzz, the other constant is Gwyn Rosser’s voice, his drawl consistently delivering that added emotional punch with aplomb.

These are songs that cheerily worm their way into your heart through perfect songcraft and you can check out some choices cut below.

Ilu – ‘Jaanus’

DvaruzkWwAAmnHQ

Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns.

They introduced themselves (and found a sizeable place in my heart) with the spectacular ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’ last year, and follow that with ‘Jaanus'; an equally intoxicating proposition. ‘Jaanus’ is elegant yet bold, delicately drifting off in the chillest of vibes as synths chime and shimmer, gently winding electronics orbit and sparkle like stars to a place of wonder and tranquillity in the cosmos. It’s jubilant yet melancholic; busy yet laid-back – a paradoxical sound but one of awe and beauty that climaxes in a haze of heavenly choral repetitions cascade upon stuttering drums. An immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures that intoxicates with airiness and beauty.

As with ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, the recording was began in Tallinn, Estonia and was completed by Tim Lewis (Spiritualized, Julian Cope, Coil) in Aerial Studios in Carmarthenshire.

There is talk of album later in the year which is great news but for now listen to ‘Jaanus’ below:

Allen & Douglas – ‘We’re Beginning To Go Backwards’

artworks-000399502155-2o58q6-original

Birmingham musical duo Allen & Douglas have been crafting songs together since their teens – strumming, singing and concocting songs in old railway stations and under canal bridges – and their music is always heavily weighted with honesty, charm and a love of making music.

The pair have a new album called Wheels & People penned for release this spring and ahead of which they have shared new single ‘We’re Beginning To Go Backwards’. This early taster continues their adventures in off-kilter/left-field indie, as ‘We’re Beginning To Go Backwards’ flits between muscular riffs and jangley chords, and sprigs of psych-tones with powerful vocals roaring us home. Each and every time Allen & Douglas pop up onto our musical radar they leave their mark and ‘We’re Beginning To Go Backwards’ is in keeping with this tradition; a wonderfully distinctive reminder of what Allen & Douglas are all about.

Listen to ‘We’re Beginning To Go Backwards’ below and keep an eye out for the forthcoming new record.

Swine Tax – ‘Conversation’

41099646_1922130957865545_6845756722510823424_n

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, DIY trio Swine Tax have proven their credentials in the way of classic indie/alternative inspired sounds – their’s is probably best summed up as a bit indie, a bit alternative rock, a bit rough around the edges and a whole lot melodic.

Their latest single ‘Conversation’ – much like last year’s ‘Never Ending’ – is an irresistible combination of catchy melodies, bustling guitar, bubbling bass and pumped-up percussion, matching their trademark witty lyricism and all treated with a mild but warm layer fuzz. Lyrically we find soul-crushing small talk in the cross-hairs of the Geordie trio, as they take a tongue-in-check approach to forced awkward interactions – and with the festive season just behind us, everyone no doubt know that feeling. ‘Conversation’ is another raucous, bustling and brilliant blast of fuzz-filled alt-rock / indie greatness.

Tune in below:

Introducing: Moony Matelot

artworks-000451102599-c7gcla-original

Moony Matelot is the musical alter ego of NYC-based artist Todd Goings who writes and records his music from the solitude of bedroom; the outcome of which has given rise to three releases; 2015 self-titled EP, 2017 debut LP Voyage and 2018 album Tempest.

Moony Matelot sound is bound by an impressive, eclectic and exquisite aural enchantment, and lifted from his records, it is something both ‘Molly’ and ‘Munich’ are testament to. ‘Molly’ skips breezily along a playful giddy, bouncy beat, navigating its way through a smiley psych-toned pop adventure of chimes, bleeping electronics, sunny and carefree temperament with vocoder vocals. Taken from the aforementioned debut EP, ‘Munich’ is the breezier of the two, a hazy laid-back dose of wonderful escapism. A warm, charming and serenely beautiful slice of indie-pop, it sports a gentle but addicting guitar riff and subtle but seductive melody, ‘Munich’ is sweetly a melodious, delicate and dreamy delight. Fizzing with ideas and ingenuity ‘Molly’ and ‘Munich’ illustrate the splendiferous quality of what the project is all about.

Listen to ‘Molly’ and ‘Munich’ below and if they are to your liking, you can listen to Moony Matelot latest album here.

Johnny Fenney’s Albums of 2018

jfalbums2018

Aside from compiling my own end of year lists, I always look forward to checking out other people’s take on the year and none more so than that of Johnny Feeney.

A reliably insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and add an extra flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading – of which, surely I’m not alone?

A massive thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his Mr. Feeney’s favourite records of 2018.

10: Parquet Courts – ‘Wide Awake!’

New York City garage-rock outfit Parquet Courts enlisted the help of Danger Mouse on production duties for their sixth full-length studio album, with a more polished sound evident throughout. The band’s trademark spiky guitars are joined intermittently by keyboards, cowbells and whistles to create a highly entertaining and fun record.

Listen in full here

9: Django Django – ‘Marble Skies’

The kaleidoscopic third album from Django Django is a veritable smorgasbord ranging from the group’s distinctive, jangling Beach Boys-style surf rock to lilting dancehall to electronic club bangers. Although there are some slower moments of real beauty present, the high points are when the Djangos speed things up such as on ‘In Your Beat’.

Listen in full here

8: IDLES – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’

The Bristol punk-rock quintet go from strength to strength with their second album, following up from last year’s brilliant debut Brutalism. The album’s twelve tracks of pummelling, angry punk are a furious state-of-the-nation address to post-Brexit Britain, with moments of lacerating wit thrown in for good measure by formidable lead singer Joe Talbot. Powerful.

Listen in full here

7: Dream Wife – ‘Dream Wife’

The debut album from this London-based all-female trio is punk-rock at the other end of the spectrum from IDLES but is nonetheless a fantastically good listen. Dream Wife specialise in melodic, (mostly) radio-friendly pop-punk with incredibly catchy hooks, lots of attitude and feminist undertones that may not become too apparent until you see the band live.

Listen in full here

Continue reading