Introducing: Les Pantalons

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Belfast outfit Les Pantalons formed in mid-2016 in response to an online ad which may have had some bearing on why the band’s sound is fused from such a wide and diverse mix of styles.

Taking in parts indie, punk, alt-rock, folk, some Balkan sensibilities and a touch of the macabre – and you’ve got what Les Pantalons are all about. To date, the Belfast outfit have released two very good EPs (their 2016 self-titled EP and The Double and Coke EP, earlier in 2017) and two of the finer moments being ‘Cold Ground’ and ‘Do You Believe’. The former, ‘Cold Ground’, is a racey guitar-pop stomp fuelled by twangy guitar, stomping beat and rich and distinctive vocals in a wonderful fusion of what sounds like Balkan-folk meets The Coral. ‘Do You Believe’ is no less memorable and showcases a more patient and dark side to their musical endeavours. Raw vocals, slow building instrumentation and sinister atmosphere combine to create a creepy, unsettling and altogether darker side to Les Pantalons. Two quite different but equally entralling sides of the Les Pantalons coin – an act to keep tabs on for sure.

You can check out ‘Cold Ground’ & ‘Do You Believe’ below, the rest of their catalogue is available here.

Justina Shandler – ‘Creature’

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‘Creature’ is the brand new single from Miami-based singer-songwriter Justina Shandler.

Between studies and work, Shandler spends whatever spare time she can find, penning music for her forthcoming album. Such is the stunning nature of ‘Creature’, one can only hope that it is a taste of things to come. Joined by Gene Knific, and Jackson Firlik, it is a potent song of enigmatic beauty. The striking vocal delivery sounds both wise and beautiful, imbued with a striking level of touching emotion. ‘Creature’ intricately weaves between the bright and dark, exquisite arrangements including cello, banjo, acoustic piano, and electronics, which swells to climax with an all consuming finale. Undoubtedly the power and purity of Shandler’s vocal is the undeniable focal point but the music too, is beautiful. She’s got such a knack for drawing out emotion without overcooking the song with flickering moments of warmth amid the haunting shadows.

Listen to the enchanting and entrancing ‘Creature’ below. Purchase it here.

Alanna Eileen – ‘Knowledge’

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Every now and then we encounter a song so tantalisingly brilliant, that it stops us in dead in our tracks, instantly demanding your full and undivided attention.

Once such track is the divine new single from New Zealand-via-Australia singer-songwriter, Alanna Eileen. Entitled ‘Knowledge’, it is incredibly evocative, pure and beautifully haunting folk music. The first thing that hits you is Eileen’s pure-toned and ethereal voice. Delicate but with an understated strength too, it is paired beautifully with finger picking and acoustic guitar, gentle harmonies, fleeting keys and a country-tinged ambience. These elegant, beautiful arrangements are not over complicated, and provide a stunning canvas for Eileen’s stunning vocals to bewitch and beguile. Enchanting and ethereal, this one showcases incredible songwriting prowess and captivating voice.

Take a listen to ‘Knowledge’ below:

Atlas Cedar – ‘In Hollywood’

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Atlas Cedar is the moniker of Glaswegian musician and songwriter Chris Syme.

Syme’s musical influences take in everything from Syd Barrett to Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon to Yes, and more; leaving us with a delightfully charming blend of Americana and folk infused guitar-pop. It is something born out with the latest release from Atlas Cedar is new single ‘In Hollywood’. A layered guitar number, it certainly tips its hat to the 60s, with Syme’s reflective, hushed vocals and hazy instrumentation filling the song with warm and inviting vibes. A breezy jangle with beautiful, irresistible melodies, what’s not to like?

‘In Hollywood’ is out now via RIP Records, the 5th in their new single series, you can sample its aural delights below.

If this one is to your liking, be sure to check out more of Atlas Cedar here.

Luddy Mussy – ‘Is A Sound’

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Self-described as “colorful, almost cartoonish music made by lunatics”, Luddy Mussy don’t do themselves justice.

With their new single ‘Is A Sound’, the Boston-based five-piece have served up one of the most intriguing and imaginative releases of 2017. It is a sprawling thirteen-and-a-half-minute adventure through era, genre and the rest, taking in alt-country, rhythm & blues, ’60s pop and indie. Opening with over four-minutes of instrumental brilliance, it kicks into gear when the vocals arrive, and how. For its rather protracted length on paper, it remains coherent and captivating exploration of sound in a similar vein to The Stones, Dylan, The Kinks and Wilco. That’s about that, a great song.

No indication to whether it will form part of more substantial release but for now, listen to this 13-minute epic and imaginative adventure below.

Rhodri Brooks – ‘Bws Dŵr’

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Rhodri Brooks is a Cardiff born singer and songwriter, whose rather wonderful sound is gathered from fragments of alt-country, psychedelia, Americana and lo-fi, and effortlessly sewn together.

Brooks’ chameleonic sound transcends eras and genres, evidenced by his wonderful back catalogue and latest single ‘Bws Dŵr’.The new track will be released through the Bubblewrap Collective – who he’s recently joined forces with – for Welsh Language Music Day on February 10th. Performed in his native Welsh, ‘Bws Dŵr’ is a gentle and wonderfully understated lo-fi blend of Americana/Country that lulls you into a hypnotic, woozy state of peace and calm as it meanders along with sliding guitars and washed-out vocal. So easy on the ear, this is just a wonderfully tranquil beauty.

‘Bws Dŵr’ is out for Welsh Language Music Day on February 10th. Listen to it below.

H. Hawkline Shares new track ‘Last Thing On Your Mind’

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Welsh artist H. Hawkline is currently working on the followup to 2015’s wondrous In The Pink Of Condition.

No concrete details on the album have been announced but we’re afforded an early taste of what we can expect with new single, ‘The Last Thing On Your Mind’. Featuring frequent collaborators Cate Le Bon and Josiah Steinbrick and powered by synths and a minimal drum machine, the single explores new territory. It does so while retaining the classic Hawkline approach for earworm hooks intertwined with gently groovy sounds, charming oddity and fused with experimental whims into mildly psychedelic, wonky pop song. A marvellously tantalising six-minutes.

As was said previously, there’s no solid info on when we can expect the new record but after all, any new H. Hawkline is good news. Be sure to be on the look out for the full length later this year.

Listen to ‘The Last Thing On Your Mind’ below.

BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2016)

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Yes. It is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 13 (lucky for some) albums of 2016.

There was lots of great music in 2016 but I decided to keep it to a short list this year. Also, I’m hoping the festive period will provide some time to catch up on some records I’ve missed throughout the year, so feel free to recommend some listening material.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2016:

There is also a Spotify playlist of all the albums, to save you time and hassle, and it is here.

13. Amber Arcades – ‘Fading Lines’

Amber Arcades‘ – Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf – debut album is a dazzling blend of ‘60s tinged psych, lush jangly guitars, floating pop melodies and an abundance of propulsive, hypnotic krautrocky moments. [Listen here]

12. Tuff Love – ‘Resort’

Glaswegian scuzz-pop aficionados Tuff Love, combine a terrific trilogy of EPs into an LP of dazzling, fuzzy indie pop with sugar-sweet melodies and crunching choruses and shoegazey guitars galore. [Listen here]

11. Underworld – ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future’

A first proper Underworld record in half a decade, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith deliver a stomping electronic record that is up there with the best of their work. [Listen here]

10. The Coral – ‘Distance Inbetween’

Distance Inbetween – their eighth LP and first in over five years – saw The Coral rediscover their roots, mojo and discover their dark side and add a harder edge to their brand of psychedelic indie. It’s an evolution of the Wirral five piece’s sound into a cohesive, weird and imaginative psych-rock record, and one that grows with time. [Listen here]

09. Mr Huw – ‘Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr’

Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr is album number five from one of Wales’ finest, Mr. Huw and with it, he has delivered an irresistible set of inventive, electrifying indie. Sang in his native tongue, these are melodic songs with a spiky edge. Post-punk riffs and snappy drum-machine punctuate infectious pop melodies, mild psychedelic leanings and Huw’s affable Welsh lilt. A magnificent collection of soul consuming tunes which provide proof if proof be needed, that we should never underestimate the power of great music to overcome a small matter, like a language barrier. [Listen here]

08. Jinx Lennon – ‘Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets’

2016 saw Jinx Lennon return with two new albums – Past Pupil Stay Sane and Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets – with each offering distinctly different brilliance. Magic Bullets… is the pick of the pair but in fairness, both find the folk punk poet at his uncompromising best. Recorded with Liverpool experimentalists Clinic, it is a collection of instantly catchy tunes that boasts a meatier, more beat-driven sound, combined with Jinx’s raw truths kicking back against the humdrum bullshit of modern life. Jinx Lennon is a unique talent, a national treasure to be exact and this is him at his inherently brilliant best. [Listen here]

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Millions Like Us Podcast #21

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Hello! We’re back (again) with another delightful mix of music and chat that is, Millions Like Us Podcast, Episode #21.

First off, apologies for the delay with this one but it was entirely out of our control. Some technical mumbo-jumbo put a spanner in the works but we (and by that I mean Stevie, poor sod) finally pulled it together after a lot of hard graft. Some sound issues remain but hopefully it doesn’t hamper the listening experience any more than usual. 😉

Anyway, back to the Pod. For Episode #21 we – Justin, Barry & Stephen – brave some dodgy internet connections, technological misadventures and timezone challenges, to bring you a bumper 90 minutes plus of music chat and an eclectic, hand-picked selection of superb new tunes.

Thanks for your patience with us with this one, we really appreciate it. We’ve all got the thinking caps on to figure out a more efficient way of doing this so once again, thanks for baring with us and we hope you enjoy Pod #21!

You can subscribe to MLU on iTunes and Podcast Republic, Mixcloud & SoundCloud, or find us on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can email us at millionslikeuspodcast[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Playlist: Best Songs of 2016

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Lists, lists, lists and more lists. Yes, it is that time of year when lists become more common place than overly optimistic Liverpool fans in August.

Time, or lack of it, truly is the enemy once again but I’ve compiled a 100+ strong song Spotify playlist; selection of personal favourites from throughout the year. Pretty self-explanatory this, but there’s loads of great stuff in there from many styles and genres and, from across the globe.

I hope to have an ‘Albums of 2016′ post completed this week. Anyway, for now, I hope you enjoy the playlist.