Back in January, I spoke on the blog about the most superb releases to grace the indie scene at the beginning of the year; other commitments meant I did not find the time to write about more brilliant songs released in February. Rather than allowing a bunch of incredible tracks to be ignored, I’ve merged the February feature into a ‘February and March’ selection of songs you should listen to from the alternative and rock scenes!
London Grammar // Big Picture
This track paints a big picture of the potential step the new London Grammar album is heading in -the trio released the song and video for ‘Big Picture’ at the start of the month, after revealing ‘Rooting for You’ in late 2016. Filled with powerful, assertive vocals from lead singer Hannah Reid, the song portrays the strength of a protagonist suddenly realising they were in a damaging, flawed relationship and they can rise above the hurt caused to them – London Grammar captures the emotion in lyrics like ‘You can try and get close to those I love / do you really think they don’t know what you’re made of?’.
Marsicans // Friends
Marsicans are a band I’ve got a lot of time for – I’ve already written about the band in varying features for both this blog and The Indiependent over the past few months. ‘Friends’ sounds fun and sprightly on the surface, but talks about the anguish of both losing pals and not having sufficient time to make for friends anymore, a sad truth for grownups everywhere. There is not a song by the northern indie group which has an insatiable, delicious groovy kick to it, melodically sticking in your head for days.
Kasabian // You’re In Love With A Psycho
Kasabian have constantly experimented with their sound and albums, whether it’s releasing something with a gritty alternative rock feel, or deliberately straying from the comfort zone and using synths and electronics within their music. Ever since 2014’s 48:13, fans have been waiting for news on their 6th studio album – finally on the 17th March, on the stroke of midnight, they got their wish. Alongside an announcement of an intimate tour (annoyingly bypassing the Northern half of the UK), Kasabian made first single ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’ available to listen. Whilst fans of the big hits, or since 48:13 may not appreciate the indie-pop orientated direction the band have taken in their latest single, with a booming chorus and a strong message the song has been loved since the first listen by many people, old and new fans alike.
alt-J // 3WW
There is something so serene and haunting about the acoustic accompaniment of the song – chilled acoustic beats and chilling vocals are entrancing. Spine-tingling nostalgia is fuelled from the track, lyrics relieving a passionate sexual encounter, filled with desire to love the target person of the song ‘in their own language’. It is not even the song’s captivating beautiful vocals which are the highlight of ‘3WW’, but rather the simple but elegant minute and a half opening instrumental segment of the song – I knew I was a fan of the song just from the starting four strokes of guitar chords. alt-J have a new album out later in the year, and ‘3WW’ (an abbreviation for 3 worn words) is the first single from it. The number ‘three’ appears to be the theme of the current alt-J era; the announcement of new music came on the 3rd March, ‘3WW’ consists of three vocalists singing about three characters, including guest vocalist Ellie Rowsell from grungy rock band Wolf Alice.
The Amazons // Black Magic
Mixing dynamic rock sounds with fundamental indie roots, The Amazons have released yet another catchy rock tune. ‘Black Magic’ has its standout moments within its choruses; whilst vocals and instrumental are bold and spirited all the way through the track, its best moment is easily the falsetto notes the group’s vocalist Matt Thomson manages to reach within the chorus sections in the song.
The Night Café // The Way of Mary
You cannot expect a band to nail every single song, but perfection comes effortlessly to these guys – they have already released several breezy indie tracks from ‘Addicted’ to ‘You Change With The Seasons’ – the beginning of ‘The Way of Mary’ carries a flavour of Circa Waves’ ‘Fossils’, and The Night Café’s overall sound is summary and upbeat, yet also extremely nostalgic. Listening to the track makes you reminiscent of glorious past moments just memories now, a sound even more surprising the band can generate given they are all still teenagers. The lead vocalist‘s voice is so smooth and really drives the nostalgic entrancing feel of all their songs – The Night Café are performing at this year’s Truck Festival and I am looking forward to catching them live.
Darlia // Ballad of Black and White
I like the whole production of Darlia’s latest release, from its verses to the sudden lift of sound and atmosphere in the chorus of the song – cleverly echoed in lyric ‘Rise like a feather’; a song which is already quite euphoric in the verses, it is taken up another level by the chorus and accumulates in even more strength and drive by this section. I also love the rawness of lead Nathan Day’s vocals – whilst some indie singers have vocals which feel too perfected, Day’s are unpolished and honest-sounding, which adds more character to the track. Ballads are songs which usually make statements, and this song is a statement from Darlia that they have raised the bar within the alternative rock scene.
Blaenavon // Alice Come Home
A band under the radar for a while; in the last few months recognition of Blaenavon’s material has grown tremendously – I love the poignant, brooding, almost sinister sound they conjure up, and they have stuck with this direction since their first EP ‘Koso’ released in 2013. In the six-minute running time of ‘Alice Come Home’, there are delicate flutters one second, rash desperate guitar sounds the next, and paints a journey of feeling calm and tranquil, to sensations of panic and unrest. Frank Wright on bass and Harris McMillan are central in their role of pacing the story the instruments spell out, whilst Ben Gregory provides haunting vocals with a mixture of qualities well-known vocalists Yannis Philippakis (Foals) and Dan Smith (Bastille) have. The unnerving, distinctive presence all Blaenavon songs have make them must-listen to tracks – other songs I’d recommend by them include ‘’Gods’ and ‘Wunderkind’ from ‘Koso’, as well as their more recent number ‘My Bark is Your Bite’.
Youth Club // Are You Wanting It All
Going for a few years now, Youth Club have been treading steadily and I believe have performed in my local city Lincoln on a few occasions. Whilst their overall sound is cool indie/pop, latest track ‘Are You Wanting It All’ is a step away from this and carries a modern, slowed down RnB vibe, created with the use of synths and electronic beats infused to produce the laidback chilled sound. Once the song hits the chorus, the kick of guitars eventually emerges; whilst I love bands who are purely alternative or indie rock and make most their music sticking in the walls of the genre, it’s also fun to discover bands not afraid to combine two, even three genres together in one track, and it is what Youth Club have pulled off successfully.
The Magic Gang // How Can I Compete
Alternative bands tend to either specialise in a breezy, happy-go-lucky, joyful sound, or a more mature, sophisticated sound, and I’d say The Magic Gang fit into the latter. ‘How Can I Compete’ is a brilliant song, right from the get-go: the track sparkles as soon as you hear the first set of lyrics ‘Exit out the same way you came’. Lyrics combined with the bouncy guitar melody just put a smile on your face without you even realising you are smiling! The Magic Gang, who I will add have one of the best band names out, are currently on tour with Circa Waves and Inheaven, and caused a stir on Twitter recently when they announced they would be giving away free T-Shirts with sign-ups to their mailing list – demand was a lot higher than anyone could have ever predicted, but thankfully I was one of the lucky 1,000 who will be receiving a Magic Gang T-Shirt in the post any day now.
Whilst I have covered ten releases in detail, there are plenty of other fantastic tracks which deserve a mention as being amongst the best new songs in the past couple of months – these include:
- Prides // Away with The Night
- Natives // Warpaint
- Temples // Strange or be Forgotten
- King No-One // Antichrist
- Club Kuru // Giving In.
As I did with January’s feature, I’ve compiled a playlist featuring all the tracks mentioned here, and you can find this at the bottom of this feature. Several the acts mentioned are currently on tours right now, and I would highly recommend going out to support these bands! All of these bands are also on social networks, and you can access their Facebook pages through clicking on the band’s name where their name and the track title are mentioned for each song.
Featured photo from London Grammar’s Twitter Account.