Mayfly – ‘Selfish Girl’

London’s Mayfly (aka Elena Garcia) captivates and transfixes with deceptively sad but spellbinding electronic pop songs.

Debut track ‘Losing You’ and follow up ‘Breathe’ served as a breathtaking introduction to what the 22-year-old Londoner has to offer – and with ‘Selfish Girl’, conjures up another truly glorious single. Written and produced by Garcia, ‘Selfish Girl’ ratchets things up a gear or two. While retaining the icy, steeliness of her previous work, this glacial excursion is anchored by a propulsive groove and steady beats that drive the track forward as simmering synths and pulsing electronics illuminate a path for Garcia’s exquisite and steely vocals to mesmerise. Mayfly has already proven a reliable source of spellbinding sounds but this is her finest yet, and demonstrates a knack for crafting infectious alt-pop but with bite.

Check out the stunning new single below:


Jouska – ‘Titanic’

Oslo-based musical duo Jouska – comprised of Marit Othilie Thorvik and Hans Olav Settem – have impressed at every given opportunity with an intriguing and inventive array of singles and debut EP Frog Fiction, as they explore some of the more leftfield realms of electronica.

Latest single ‘Titanic’ comes from a similar realm of colourful cosmic imagination – albeit delivered in a slight more mellow package. Tempered by a breezy atmosphere and ethereal ambience, ‘Titanic’ moves softly over a gentle alluring groove protruded by bubbling synths and flecks of electronics, creating a lush and dreamy world of cosmic electronica. Amid this utterly beautiful soundscape, another alluring layer of bewitching beauty is provided by the heavenly, hushed and ever so melodic vocals. ‘Titanic’ is a lush, mellow and heavenly track, marked by moments of exquisite beauty and bouts of mild euphoria.

Listen to ‘Titanic’ below, it is lifted from their so far unnamed album expected at some stage in the future.

NOGYMX – ‘Nakatomi Plaza’

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It’s fair to say that Galway-based producer NOGYMX (pronounced no-gimmicks) has a slight infatuation with the synthesizer sounds of the ’80s and synth-based cinematic film scores.

Of course, this is not a bad thing at all, and it is from this base that NOGYMX’s sleek, slick and cinematic vision of synth-pop takes shape, as evidenced by ‘Nakatomi Plaza’. Retro yet futuristic, ‘Nakatomi Plaza’ is a fascinatingly imaginative and richly developed electronic excursion to a place where dreams and reality can coexist in the same space as ’80s video games, and sci-fi and adventure movie scores. Propelled forward on a wave of driving beats, kicks, slow-motion chord changes and neon-bright synths, it is smooth, oozes cool and feels a little dangerous. Masterfully pieced together from start to finish, colourfully creating an incredible sense of wonderment and adventure it excels unequivocally in producing a severe case of nostalgia while feeling forward thinking and futuristic too.

Listen to ‘Nakatomi Plaza’ below now & if you like what you hear, there is more where that came from on NOGYMX’s latest album NO EMPERORS – tune in here.

O Future – ‘Voyeur’

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Formerly known as OOFJ, O Future is the pairing of Katherine Mills Rymer from South Africa and Jens Bjornkjaer originally from Denmark, who both now reside in Los Angeles.

Together, the pair have cultivated something of a niche, fusing electronic, orchestral and art pop music to create a colourful, imaginative and dance-y tunes that will get firmly lodged in your head, as evidenced by previous single ‘Smell You’ and latest effort ‘Voyeur’. It is a tantalizing meeting of eerie, somewhat menacing, yet sweeping symphonic sound. ‘Voyeur’ is jittery and claustrophobic as quickfire drumbeat hits first, accompanied by somewhat manic synths and buzzing bass it swells, growing more intense in tandem with Mills Rymer’s breathy but increasingly feverish vocals. A stunning and seductive single that is beautiful yet eerie, with the sweeping orchestra strings adding a final alluring touch of cinematic class and sweeping grandeur.

Listen to ‘Voyeur’ below – and there is more here.

Ten Tracks of 2018

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Whittling down your favourite tracks of any year is an arduous task and this year, a particularly good one musically, has proven equally if not more difficult.

That said, in the interest of posterity, I condensed it down to ten and there is a nice extended 30-track playlist below too.

So, in no particular order, here are my favourite ten (then 30 below) tracks of 2018. Enjoy!

Omaloma – ‘Bubblegum’

Welsh artist Omaloma aka George Amor (Serol Serol & Sen Segur) has carved out special space on the musical landscape with a series of blissful, spacey psych-pop singles; ‘Ha Ha Haf’, ‘Aros O Gwmpas’ and ‘Eniwe’ in recent years.

This year, Omaloma added ‘Bubblegum’ to this burgeoning list of stellar singles. A first on vinyl, released as a 7″ single, ‘Bubblegum’ is utterly divine and marks the pinnacle of the project thus far. Sung in English and Welsh, ‘Bubblegum’ is a four-minute sojourn to a spellbinding interstellar paradise. It coolly swaggers as it moves on by, leaving us in a dream-like state, with an alluring blend of slinky, synth-pop with psych brush strokes, woozy synth lines and Amor’s soft, soothing bilingual vocals. Instantly lovable, it breezes gracefully by with a seductive soulful underbelly and charm to woo you.

ilu – ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’

Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns – of Spiritualized proportions. Backing up these lofty claims is stunning debut single ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’. Propelled along Krautrock, motoric grooves ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, spacey synths and heavenly harmonies envelop spiky post-punk guitars and bass rumbles which coalesces into one coherent, unstoppable sound. Sizzling danceable grooves are woven tightly into their mammoth tones and grinding churn, which is all punctuated with a beautiful yet melancholic sense of longing. As far as debut singles go, they don’t come much bigger or better than ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’; an immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures.

Accü – ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’

Accü is the multifaceted, genre blending solo project of Cardiff-based musician and producer Angharad Van Rijswijk. Accü’s debut album Echo The Red is one of 2018’s very best and lead single ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is quite something. An offbeat exploration of imaginative experimentation and colourful, kaleidoscopic sounds, ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is a spellbinding cosmic sojourn to psychedelic space. Fusing elements of frayed electronics, squelchy synths, soft-edged psych-pop it tips along a tidy drum beat with reverb-laced vocals swaying through a cascading sequence of crackling, frazzled electronics. Moving with a dreamlike, otherworldly aura; ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is colourful, imaginative and fearlessly exploratory off-kilter pop.

Silverbacks – ‘Dunkirk’

Dublin-based outfit Silverbacks have delighted and excited at every turn thus far and none more so than with ‘Dunkirk’. A sprawling three-minutes of post-punk underpinned by an insistent, nagging bassline and increasingly manic, winding guitar lines, metronomic drumbeat and Gang of Four calibre bass lines. It is the ideal backdrop for Daniel O’Kelly’s stream of conscious musings of a dystopian future where Dunkirk, despite its history, has become a built-up holiday destination for young families. ‘Dunkirk’ is Silverbacks at their finest and signals strongest their evolution beyond their early Pavement-esque beginnings, to a coveted plain where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish.

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Albums of the Year 2018

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, lists, lists and well, more lists – and from every angle possible. That said, drawing up a list of my favourite records from throughout the year is one of the most enjoyable aspects to the blog.

There was lots of great music in 2018 (as is the case every year) but here are 18 of my favourite records from the year – 18 for 18 if you will.

Without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2018. Enjoy!

18: Conor Mason – ‘On The Surface’

Conceived, developed and rendered into life over eighteen months in his hometown of Derry, Conor Mason’s fourth album is a treasure trove of musicianship and songwriting craft and is very assured in his musical landscape, conjuring the wistful wonderment of Elliott Smith, Grandaddy, Villagers and Matthew Jay. In essence, it is an exploration living life with uncertainty; the highs and lows, curiosity and change, and significance, or insignificance, of humans in the universe. Flowing gently by, amid a sea of hushed lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation, Mason reveals himself master of hook, harmony and heart. At times fragile, tender and touching, his songs are paradoxically permeated by an air of richness and comforting warmth, yet shrouded in melancholy, and draped in Mason’s intuitive song writing and storytelling abilities. A beautiful record.

Listen in full here.

17: The Coral – ‘Move Through The Dawn’

The Coral returned with their ninth studio album in 2018 and their prolific work rate and flair for psychedelic folk and classy pop songs shows no signs of abating. Move Through The Dawn glides along serenely, laden with seductive, sweet melodies and lush string arrangements, with the likes of ‘Reaching Out For a Friend’ and ‘Sweet Release’ bouncing around your head all day. While ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Stormbreaker’ remind us on The Coral’s other side (and the closest relations to 2016’s Distance Inbetween); heavier riffs, jagged guitars and general air of menace. It is another wonderful and solid record from one of Britain’s most enduring and lovable bands.

Listen in full here.

16: Kneecap – ‘3CAG’

Comprised of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí, Kneecap are a satirical hip-hop trio from Belfast who perform in Irish. The trio combine a fluency in Irish with an amazing delivery and a wry sense of humour to produce one of the most unique homegrown records of 2018. Over eight tracks, their mixtape 3CAG offers a satirical take on life for young people, with a particular west Belfast slant. If like me, your command of Irish leaves a lot to be desired, it doesn’t matter a jot. The beats are superb and so infectious, and the flow and lyrical skill on show is second to none, with plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure – anyone who might be sceptical to begin with will be easily won over, just press play.

Listen in full here.

15: Gwenno – ‘Le Kov’

Gwenno’s debut, 2015’s Y Dydd Olaf, was almost all in Welsh; Le Kov, sung in Cornish is just as stunning and serene a sonic dream. The music continues in a retro-futuristic psych-pop vein, but Le Kov is even more expansive sounding than Y Dydd Olaf. Gwenno’s calm, precise and often reverbed vocals navigate a whirlwind of electronic noise, intricately weaved mixture of moods, textures and pulsations, and soaring strings.The record feels alive, vital and organic, like a luminous dream, it is a place playfulness, shimmering beauty, mythology and modernity that are all interwoven with freeflowing ideas, synth-lines and electronic blips, and an undercurrent of poetical dissent. A stunning record – inviting and bubbling with creative ideas, energy and possibilities – from a unique talent.

Listen in full here.

14: Half Man Half Biscuit – ‘No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut’

Album number 14 from Half Man Half Biscuit sees Nigel Blackwell and company in top form with a collection of great, cheerful, upbeat tunes combined with witty, sardonic lyrics. Musically it picks up where Urge for Offal left off, a rocky, brash and pretty loud post-punk indie backdrop for sardonic but never cynical takes on everyday life. In short, it’s got what a HMHB LP always has; the irresistible wordplay, varying cultural references, surreal and improbable surreal tales, and the most quotable lyrics in the world. A real treasure.

Listen in full here.

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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:

Vanity Fairy – ‘Loverman’

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The cleverly named Vanity Fairy – musical alter-ego of Daisy Capri – has shared new single ‘Loverman’, the second offering from Capri’s forthcoming Lust For Dust EP.

In much a similar vein to debut single ‘He Can Be Your Lady’, we are ushered to an offbeat exploration of imaginative, off-kilter sounds – albeit with less of a disco-danceable vibe. The latter’s aesthetic maybe scrubbed somewhat but ‘Loverman’ glides along a slinking synth line with a glowing intensity as her eccentric and trembling vocals seep into every corner and cranny of the lush backdrop provided by her ethereal slo-mo disco-influenced sound. Suffice to say, it’s a catchy, fun, and just a little bit peculiar, in the best way possible.

Check it out for yourself below, and stay tuned for more from Vanity Fairy soon; a debut EP is expected before the close of 2018, or early in 2019.

 

Blank & Jones – ‘Grown Minds’

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German duo Blank & Jones‘ career stretches back to the late ’90s and since then, they have carved out a rep for their non-conformist electronic sounds.

For their latest release ‘Grown Minds’, Blank & Jones have teamed up with Berlin-based British vocalist (and longtime BarryGruff favourite) David Harks to create a haunting yet beautiful and addictive electronic pop song. It is a cinematic masterpiece that marries their dark electronic sound design of glacial tones, warm piano chords, hushed drums, and a goosebumps inducing atmosphere to Harks’ melancholic, plaintive vocal. ‘Grown Minds’ is an introspective, dusky and melancholic slice of magical electronic pop, with a twist of the Balearic fizzing through it. Enjoy!

Listen to ‘Grown Minds’ below:

Jouska – ‘Glitter Chaser’

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Jouska is the Oslo-based musical duo consisting of Marit Othilie Thorvik and Hans Olav Settem.

To date the pair have impressed with an intriguing and inventive array of singles and debut EP Frog Fiction, as they explore some of the more leftfield, out-there reaches of electronica. Brand new single ‘Glitter Chaser’ takes on a similarly stellar expedition to the realms of their imagination. Tempered by an airy/spacey atmosphere ‘Glitter Chaser’ sets forth in a sea of kaleidoscopic colour, brimming with divine harmonies and packed with crunchy beats and groovy synths which coalesce to create a super smooth, playful yet dreamy piece of cosmic electronica. Amid the alluring dreamy soundscape a final touch of bewitching beauty is provided by the heavenly vocals.

Jouska’s music is refreshingly inventive and exploratory, qualities marked out by both this and their aforementioned previous EP.

Listen to ‘Glitter Chaser’ below now – and you can tune into their debut EP Frog Fiction right here.