As Rob has been meticulously drip-feeding his top twenty from 2014 into the blog over the last few weeks, I thought I’d provide an alternative listing just to show the diversity of our blogging tastes. That meant, no duplication with the Rob-o-Sphere, and so out went Curxes, Cate Ferris, Fear of Men, all of which were excellent in my book.
That left me with the following selections capturing ten (well, eleven) of the brilliant sounds and songs that emerged from our fair city over the last year in a shambling semblance/pretence of order:
1 Bentcousin – Dizzy
These terrible twins have been drip-feeding the cosmos with some ace songs, but this was the killer track for me released on a vinyl 7 inch and with some super Brighton-relevant rapping from Rory P.
2 yourgardenday – Something in the Music
A gorgeous plea for tolerance and harmony and a love of music, this had a limited release last year as lead track on Robin Coward’s Flat Stream EP, finally getting a full on-line release this summer.
3 Time for T – Free Hugs
An adorable band writing some adorable songs, this slunk of 70s soul has a great chorus and a charming video in which the band spend the whole song hugging Brighton people. Did I say it was adorable?
4 Sharon Lewis – Boxer’s Glove
Released right at the tail end of last year, this came from the Simple Things EP that accompanied Sharon’s excellent album, a melancholic tale of domestic violence, harsh but beautiful.
5 Fragile Creatures – Fragile Creatures
This band write some classic pop and none better than this – the self-named winner from their first EP which came out this summer.
6 Ellie Ford – Low
Singer-songwriter who had her debut EP re-released by Hidden Trail Records this year, from whence came this song, and also released an excellent covers EP. Ellie Ford is a singer who just gets better and better and her debut album should come out next year.
7 AK/DK – Maxwell’s Waves
This track comes from their album titled ‘Synth + Drums + Noise + Space’ which kind of sums up their sound without the excitement of their stunning live shows.
8 Slum of Legs – Razorblade the tape
This band are manic live, and their initial punky 7″ single on the Tuff Enuff label captures just half of this energy. This was the b-side.
9 Fiona Sally Miller – Lanterns
From one of three EPs released on the same day, this was one of the proper songs rather than the underwater experimental or live tracks, but like so much of Miller’s work it sounded magical.
=10 The Delta Bell – Wasted
Hiawatha Telephone Company – Dave
‘Wasted’ is a classic rambling country song sung by the gorgeous tones of Kate Gerrard and hit all the right notes in my book.
Shamelssly squeezing an eleventh song into my top ten I’ll come clean and admit that I had a hand in ‘Dave’, but it’s a song that ought to resonate in 2015 it being election year. Ripe for a cover, but for now we have this.
When I was going through my favourite Brighton based music of the last twelve months, there was one band who stood head and shoulders above the rest for me personally. A band who I got a bit evangelical about and told everyone I knew they had to listen to, including my friends from outside of Brighton. That band were Momotaro, who at the end of last year had a few demos up on Soundcloud and had given away the fantastic dubby Reverie in return for signing up to their mailing list, yet managed to come out with a fully formed album on the first of February this year. Second Side featured much improved versions of some of those demos that we’d already heard as well as tracks which they’d been refining live, where despite sounding electronic most of the instruments are played live making them considerably more engaging than someone with their head down behind a laptop. The addition of a bassist and a visual artist to their line up later in the year as well as the continual evolution of their electronic post trip hop sound has turned things up another notch, and with a new EP due imminently 2015 could be a very good year indeed for Momotaro.
With the release of the first proper debut album (last year’s Early Fragments discounted because it was just a collection of singles), Fear of Men have finally come of age. As you would expect Loom has an abundance of cultural references set to classic indie pop, bookended with intimate vulnerability but packed with strength inbetween. The album got great reviews across the board – NME gave it 8/10, and The Line of Best Fit 9/10 – which scored the band a tour support with Pains of Being Pure at Heart giving them a ready built audience all across America and Europe before they returned to play their own headline homecoming show at The Hope in September. Fear of Men are already working on demos for their next album which we can’t wait to hear.
Apparently Eagles for Hands double A side single Handprints / Glitterall was Laurie James Ross’ first official release, which is a bit odd since Lisbon was in our top ten last year. Handprints is even better than Lisbon – joyous house music with a liberal sprinkling of vocal hooks, plenty of cowbell and even more bass. If Handprints was the soundtrack to the dancefloor being filled, then double a side Glitterall was the sound of the chillout room, with huge slabs of marginally out of phase synths which unsettle you slightly and make the track feel much bigger than the sum of it’s parts. Either track on it’s own would have put Eagles for Hands in our end of year list, but it’s the union of the two which gives it such a high placing.
As I said when I made the first post of our end of year round up anyone’s lists will always be subjective. Until everyone listens to the same music and responds to it in the same way we’ll still see lists we disagree with. Vive la difference I say. However we fully endorse the record that The Quietus have picked to top their end of year list. Unflesh by Gazelle Twin unsettled and impressed us in equal measures, it’s force multiplied by compelling live performances.
Sometimes a chance encounter can lead to magical things – Rachel from GAPS met Maya Jane Coles at a house party long before GAPS were formed or Maya had found the success she now enjoys, but that meeting long ago is what led to them collaborating on this year’s In Dark, In Day EP. Where Rachel’s warm vocals and acoustic guitar are normally paired with Ed’s electronica, things were taken to another level on the three tracks (plus one instrumental) on this collaboration with the addition of Maya Jane Cole’s deep house beats.
It’s very easy to bandy around the term feel-good. It’s lazy journalistic shorthand for anything vaguely positive and in most cases there are normally many more adjectives which would better fit the bill. But feel-good is how we’re going to describe David Harks summer single Open Arms, taken from his LOMO EP which has only just got a full release this week. The balance between house and pop hasn’t sounded this great since the Beloved back in the early nineties.
Seadog are the baby of Mark Benton, erstwhile guitarist with Man Ray Sky, Grand Palace and occasional others. Five years on from their first EP, a double set of beautiful soft pastoral songs which sounded like some lost singer-songwriter classic from the early 1970s, comes the new Transmitter EP, something a little tougher and wilder. The songs themselves have been part of the Seadog live set for several years but they’re now getting a well-deserved release on the excellent Bleeding Hearts recordings label.
Brighton music blog were there for the launch.
First up were Such Small Hands, centred around Melanie Howard’s beautiful vocals and dark break-up anti-love pop songs. Instead of a second guitar, Chris played a “keytar” which was a strapped-on extended keyboard. it’s a bit of a shame he spent most the gig bashing away at just a couple of keys because it looked like something that could be really interesting. Fortunately Melanie provided more than enough entertainment.
Next up were The Creaking Chair, including Seadog drummer Ryan Bollard, who played an enticing mix of Krautrock and early 70s English whimsy like Kevin Ayres, with some funky interjections too. It was a good mix that had the audience nodding in appreciation.
Finally, main band Seadog with a slightly augmented line-up, playing the new EP and other songs, sounding nervous and rough-edged at first, but then coming beautifully alive. The new songs have the lovely harmonies of the first EPs, with great songs like Haunted which have a classic twisted poppiness. Then Max plays the childlike xylophone introduction to ‘Transmitter’ and a lovely warm noise envelopes the room. The band have a fine sound, Mark Benton’s sweet vocals provide a strong lead and some well-crafted songs help ensure this is a band to watch. Here’s hoping they stop with EPs and collect together an album soon.
In the meantime, Transmitter is available in a variety of formats – CDs, downloads and soon-to-be-available vinyl. Catch Seadog at their next gig at the Northern Lights on 17th January. In the meantime, here’s a live version of Haunted
Cate Ferris’ live performances have always been a joy to behold – her voice always surprises and her effortless use of her looping kit belies the true skill involved. There’s always been a question mark over how that transfers to record though. She recorded an EP at Tim Bidwell’s Clockwork Owl studio a couple of years ago, but by his own admission he just let her do her own thing. Since then she’s built a studio in her home and the Disappear EP is the first fruits of that endeavour, transforming four live favourites into tracks which stand on their own without having to be impressed by her one-(wo)man-band live show.
There’s an unwritten rule that if you’re going to release any music, you do it in the first eleven months of the year. That way it’s out there in time to be included in any end of year lists, and you don’t end up competing for anyone’s attention with X-factor contestants or Greatest Hits compilations. But obviously nobody told the musicians of Brighton – we’ve got sixteen different tracks for you in this post.
First up is the new release from David Harks, who’s been posting up other tracks from his Lomo EP over the past few months. The title track Odyssey is now out there, and the whole EP is available to buy on iTunes, out now on his own Jumjum Records imprint.
Next we have the first new music from Brighton Music Blog favourite Anneka for a while. End of It is built up from a number of vocal lines sung by her, with mournful harmonies and percussive exhalations. Apparently the track (which is available as a free download if you click through and follow the links) is a taster of more to come in early 2015.
Ital Tek has been busy working on his next album this year so hasn’t appeared too active to the outside world. Last Christmas he gave away a free download of one of his tracks and this year he’s doing the same, with new tune Crossed Wires:
Fickle Friends are also giving away a track for Christmas. If you head over to their bandcamp page you can grab their cover of Gorgon City’s Ready For Your Love
Sticking with tracks for Christmas, here’s Crayola Lectern‘s seasonal offering. (No More) Happy Endings is a little cheerier than last year’s SFXmas, and gives us some a hint of what we might expect when the band finish recording their second album:
Soccer96 have a new EP out on Wotnot records on 7″ and download, entitled Jupiter Masterdrive. The title track is a few minutes of wonky hip hop and is called Constellation. To hear the rest of the EP and buy it on either format head over to the band’s bandcamp page
A lot of people were quite excited about the recent news about Twin Peaks returning, and we can probably count electronica band Dark Train amongst that number. Their latest offering is a cover of Julee Cruse’s Falling which featured heavily in the original series.
We loved Cate Ferris‘ Disappear EP which came out earlier this year. Last week saw the release of the sister remix EP, suitably entitled Reappear:
Another new EP is the new release from Man Ray Sky (currently hosting their launch party at the Hope as I type). The EP name and lead track is the breezy Ether Song:
Kanzi‘s debut EP isn’t out until January sometime (I’ve read several different dates on different bits of the internet), but you can check out lead track Two Hearts now:
Troves debut double a-side single came out back in September on Nude Records. Keeping interest up for the release is a new video for the beautiful track Afterthought:
Anushka have released another single from their Broken Circuit long player. Kisses is a different version from the one on the album, with the addition of of extra vocals from guest MC Trim. I’ve also also just seen in the PR email I got that I missed out on a live performance from the band last weekend. Sorry!
If you fancy some electro pop then get your ears around Astrid’s Tea Party‘s debut single. What’s in it for Me? is up as a free download for a limited period and will be followed up with an EP in early 2015.
Math-pop band Orchards new single Chemystery was released last thursday. It’s taken from their new EP which is due to drop in March next year:
Rooster Cole has uploaded a few tracks to Soundcloud and has promised more music and more live shows for 2015. Here’s one of those tracks, the quirky Bird Don’t Sing:
Finally we finish up a video from Battery Operated Orchestra. Flouro Sushi is taken from the band’s debut album Incomplete Until Broken, out now via Bandcamp.