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.

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:

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.

Arema Arega – ‘Wherever You Are’

Arema Arega is a Barcelona-based Cuban singer-songwriter whose lush and soulful sound is marked by touches of Blues, Bossa Nova, Jazz, Folk, Funk and electronica, and of course, the tropical influence of her homeland.

Arega already has a number records to her name – The Red Soundtracks, The Blue Soundtracks: The Light Seekers Journey and some singles / EP – all part of an ever developing project which sees her craft scores for imaginary films. Arega’s latest single ‘Wherever You Are’ is very much of the same variety; slick, smooth and cinematic, marrying lush tones with seductive grooves. It is a record of of breath-taking beauty as smooth, soul-filled vocals flow above while percussive rhythms bubble away amid the smokey noir atmosphere, sweeping sumptuous strings and peppered by brass and flutters of flutes. A seductive, cinematic and evocative song tempered by an otherworldly quality, deliciously retro vibe and rich, smoky vocals – a grandiose soundtrack to the movie that never was.

Listen in below:

Fanclub – ‘Trespassing’

Austin-based indie-pop trio Fanclub – Mike Lee, Leslie Crunkilton & Daniel Schmidt – have been making a bit of name for themselves as a reliable source of lush, dreamy indie-pop since their emergence last year.

The trio have returned with a new single ‘Trespassing’, one as dazzling and irresistible as any that have proceeded it. It is an elegant, breezy and characteristically glossy slice of dreamy indie-pop. ‘Trespassing’ drifts along with a breezy air and whispering groove as shimmering guitars and lush electronics give way to subtle melodies and pattering drums as Crunkilton’s mellifluous vocals flow above; a final velvety layer to engulf you in the rapturous allure. This is utterly beautiful, beguiling and all together divine indie-pop; pure pop perfection – no question.

Listen to ‘Trespassing’ below:

HUSSY – ‘YLMD’

Originally from the North East of England, HUSSY is the moniker of South London-based dream pop purveyor Sophie Nicole Ellison, a multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist with a knack for deep and textured songs, layering fuzzy guitars to create spellbinding soundscapes.

To date, this predilection and skill has been on show with singles ‘Forever’, ‘Playtime’ and ‘Slayer’ and HUSSY is back with a new track ‘YLMD’. It is harder, rockier and more thrilling than previous singles while retaining continuity in the dreamy stakes. Opening with driving guitar work, energetic percussion and Ellison’s own clear, glacial tones, it explodes out of the speakers grabbing your attention from the off. First and foremost ‘YLMD’ is a powerful, rousing and thrilling anthem but it also showcases Ellison’s brilliant ear for melodies, but interspersing them with massive drums, jangley guitars and covered with layers of warm fuzz and distortion, and a lingering sense of melancholy. A self-empowered love letter to herself; it is a massive tune, bristling with energy and emotion amid the sparkling haze.

Tune in below:

Worldcub – ‘Here Comes The Moonshadow’

Formerly known as CaStLeS, Worldcub are Welsh psych-pop outfit piloted by brothers Cynyr and Dion Hamer, in addition to new members Carwyn Ginsberg (Hippies V Ghosts / Fauna Twin) on guitar and Dion Wyn Jones (Alffa) on bass.

Under previous guise of CaStLeS, their swirling sonic brew of psychedelic surf rock kraut-rock grooves never disappointed and 2016 debut Fforesteering is magical. To accompany the new handle, Worldcub have released a new single ‘Here Comes The Moonshadow’. With its layers of beautiful vocal harmonies engulfing stomping percussive loops, it is hypnotic and blissful psych.It is underpinned by hazy, reverb-heavy guitars which gradually become more erratic and off-kilter while cosmic flashes and frazzled effects cascade from above as lilting Welsh vocals float above this sonic brew. Beautiful, blissful and utterly bewitching.

Check out ‘Here Comes The Moonshadow’ below, it is out now alongside equally wonderful Welsh language b-side ‘Hel y Hadau’.

PODGE – ‘What Happened’

Beginning life recording in his bedroom at the age of 15, PODGE is the creative tour de force of (now 20 year old) Adam Charo. 

Armed with a synthesizer and a laptop, these sessions gave birth to his self-released debut album The Hero Appears, setting out his predication for the whimsical aesthetics of Japanese pop culture, and all wrapped up in a playful, joyful and colourful confection of catchy electro-pop. The latest record, Eatmore Fruit EP, follows a similar trajectory and is fronted by magical single ‘What Happened’. A big smiley ray of sunshine, ‘What Happened’ is joyous, giddy and uplifting as it playfully flutters along a jaunty beat and and glitchy synth through a beautiful imaginative world filled with colourful ideas and kaleidoscopic sounds, and bound together in hypnotic majesty. It’s an eccentric, off-kilter and Technicolor pop adventure of playfully experimental arrangements and sounds that are gentle whirring together and filled with breezy vibes and sense of joy. A magical, sunshine filled slice of pop perfection.

Tune into ‘What Happened’ below.

Superheart – ‘Heaven’s In Your Head’

UK-based producer Luke Batt aka Superheart has built a rep as a reliable source of comforting and dreamy electronic-pop over the past two years or so, and Batt is at it again.

New single ‘Heaven’s In Your Head’ is yet another delight and serves as a nexus to their lush electronic-pop; of cosmic vibes, dreamy vocals, hopeful lyrics and shimmering synthesis. It is a blissed-out blend of cosmic vibes as lush, layered vocals and dreamy keys usher us through hazy ambient surroundings as it gently builds, drifting along until a warm rapture envelopes you and everything else around you leaving you floating in a dreamlike state. Marked by Batt’s signature flair for elegant, blissful and ethereal production, ‘Heaven’s In Your Head’ is a seductive slice of lush and transfixing electronic-pop; and one that will leave you all the better for making its acquaintance.

Listen to ‘Heaven’s In Your Head’ below:

Cousin Kula – ‘MIMO’

Bristol six-piece Cousin Kula specialise in explorations of dreamy, jazz-influenced psych-tinged pop, and with latest single ‘MIMO’ they do that with aplomb.

MIMO is the final single lifted from second EP STROODLES, follow up to 2017’s OODLES, and it is a smooth, smouldering and seductive slice of proggy psych-pop. Taking in an eclectic blend of music from pop and jazz through to psych and prog, it slinks languidly through a cosmic world of colourful synths, frazzled electronics, bubbling bass and free form rhythms. It is simultaneously laid back and bursting with passion as empowering lyrics flow over this exploration in sound collage. It is an amazing track with layers upon layers of intricately pieced together components revealing more and more with each listen – and by the same virtue, rewarding more with each and every listen. 

Check out ‘MIMO’ below – and the entire EP is here too.