With streaming platforms making music accessible to everyone with just about an internet connection, more music is becoming commercially available and you may not catch all the new releases in one month. Fear not; in a jazzy new feature for the blog in 2017, every month I will compile a list of all the freshest alternative releases that may have escaped right under your nose. For a heads up, I find a large proportion of new indie music from Spotify and the YouTube channel The Hyve, so these are ideal places to search for the latest big and upcoming tunes. Some of these songs were recorded and released in late 2016 but were added to YouTube and streaming channels this month.
Circa Waves // Fire That Burns
Ahh, Circa Waves. Content off their first album Young Chasers wandered into pop music territory and they sounded like any standard boy band to me – my friends have always been massive fans but I did not grasp what made Circa Waves’ music so popular, until now. Fire That Burns is brooding from the first notes of brash guitar playing you hear; the song content is un-mistakenly dark and represents a complete swing in direction for the fun-loving sounding boys, and it pays off. Elements from fantastic indie-rock bands like Mallory Knox and Deaf Havana are reflected in the instrumental layout of the track and works substantially better than their once pop-infused ascendancy.
Bear’s Den // Berlin
An acoustic number, this delightful slow song is another brilliant release from the band, and it will give you fuzzy feelings of better times and nostalgia for the past, as well as a desire to be on the beautiful streets of Berlin, covered in snow. The duo plays with words with perfect execution to get across meaning – ‘maybe there are victories and defeats / that slip through the cracks of history / we’re just two people in the sea /but know that it meant everything to me’ emphasises how lost and isolated the protagonist feels after losing the someone special he spent time in Berlin with.
Glass Caves // Do You Have A Name
In a month filled with rhetorical question titled songs, Glass Caves released this latest cut at the same time the lad’s interview with BBC’s Newsbeat was unveiled on their website; the band discussed the implications busking have had on their career rise and stated the importance of this form of self-promotion within the music industry. I personally am very proud of the progress Glass Caves have made; I first became aware of the band two years after watching them busking in York, and since then The Hyve have featured several of their songs on their YouTube channel. Back to the song itself, instrumentally and lyrically it is a merry, gaiety little number and as the listener, you end up anticipating and urging the protagonist to just pluck up the courage and tell his love interest already how he feels about them!
Declan McKenna // The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home
In the middle of touring, both as a support for Cage the Elephant and on his own headliner tour, Declan has released another politically charged song which makes reference to kids carrying guns in its chorus, a topic not even established musicians would dare mention. Declan is not scared to stray away from some of life’s most heated and argued topics including religion and sexuality, and this time he has wrote & released a song expressing his frustration at the way young people are misheard and ignored when it comes down to voting for major political decisions and in day to day life: the teenager has already made it clear where he stands with the current voting age, wearing a top saying ‘Give 17-year-olds the vote’ for his impacting, debut Jools Holland performance.
Racing Glaciers // Sertraline
Songs dealing with the toughest topics in life have emerged more over the past decade; initially you may assume the song merely expressed how people generally feel mixed emotions in their day to day life, but take a more in-depth analysis and the song actually talks about the battle you have when taking pill sertraline to combat depression. As a psychology student myself I am fully aware that making the decision to try medication to ease symptoms of major depressive disorder is no easy choice, and the song delicately and tastefully illustrates the ups and downs experienced when using the anti-depressant.
Zuzu // What You Want
Apart from a few commercially successful examples including Ellie from Wolf Alice, and Florence and the Machine, alternative music tends to be dominated by male acts. Zuzu is making her imprint on the music industry with bad-ass, carefree song What You Want; with a chorus filled with ‘ooh’s, the song has a real sense of zest and energy to it and is another song from the list impossible to not bop your head to.
The Sherlocks // Was It Really Worth It?
Rising in their rankings over the past year, The Sherlocks are another band about to sell their soul to months of dedicated touring, and fans will be delighted to hear this track in their live shows! The band are complied of the sort of lads you can rely on to bring out banger after banger, and I definitely feel a strong St. Jude Courteeners era vibe in the track – it has strong punchy fun vocals, with a catchy chorus guaranteed to make you tap your feet and dance around. ‘How does it feel to be perfect / and was it really worth it?’ is a brilliant line because it emphasises the struggle that people have to fit in, trying too hard to be liked or to obtain something to no avail, and this issue is slotted in within an upbeat sounding track.
The Bay Rays // Satisfaction
January may be the month of the blues, but you wouldn’t know it from this groovy and infectious tune The Bay Rays have brought out. The lead singer of the band sounds remarkably like the lead of Kings of Leon, one comparison the band will fully take in their stride.
Get Inuit // Barbiturates
Everything this band touches turns to magic, and once again the group has revealed a glorious song, this time with a punchy Britpop flavoured riff. The whole image and sound of Get Inuit is vibrant and brimming with buoyancy, even when the band tackle darker issues in their songs – barbiturates are drugs designed to suppress the central nervous system, and the meaning of the song is hidden under its happiness vibe with clever and witty lyricism including ‘have you the nerve to numb a nerve / can you giggle at these funny turns?’. Get Inuit have had a successful January with their headline show at the Lexington, and they are another band I would recommend seeing live (you can read all about their performance at The Platform, Lincoln here).
Catfish and the Bottlemen // Outside
Whilst their second album The Ride was released and topped the charts last year, the band’s concluding track off the record is their latest cut, and has been recently added to both jukeboxes, and the inclusive and prestigious Indie List playlist on Spotify. Despite the track’s slightly baffling abrupt ending, lyrically the song is the peak of the band’s lamenting romance storytelling, and it is a song with two clear cut dimensions: the mellow, minor key section picking up pace and volume to provide a stirring ending to a brilliant second offering by the Welsh lads. Van’s vocals compliment both the softer and heavier halves of the song well, and I am genuinely in awe of his vocals.
As well as the songs I have spoken more in length about, other great songs which were released this month include (with some suggestions by friends):
- Splashh // Waiting A Lifetime
- Strange Bones // We The Rats
- The XX // I Dare You
- Blaenavon // Orthodox Man
- Arcade Fire // I Give You Power
To save you the time and effort rooting for all these tracks yourself, I have added them all to a playlist so you can begin your listening enjoyment as soon as you’ve finished reading this feature 🙂