New Music – Aashton, Phantom Runners, Eagles for Hands, Thyla, Oslo Parks, Samuel Organ, Stuart Warwick, I Am Ampersand, Soft Walls, Flash Bang Band, Tied To The Mast, IYES, Adolescent

It’s been too hot for new blog posts the past couple of weeks. It was too hot for me to sit in front of my PC typing away, and it was too hot for you all to be sitting in reading the internet. Now the weather’s slightly more bearable, here’s a whole heap of new music that we’ve been waiting to tell you about:

We wrote about Aashton‘s new single I Can’t Shake It way back in April. Things got a bit delayed with the released, but it’s out now, and to celebrate he’s giving away a free download of his track Status Ain’t Crooked:

Phantom Runners‘ debut EP is out on 22nd August. The three track EP featuring featuring On The Run, Anna and Goddess of War has been produced by Fun Loving Criminal’s Huey Morgan. You can hear lead track On The Run here:

Whenever we hear that Eagles for Hands has posted some new music up we drop what we’re doing and listen straight away. Glass Heart is Laurie Ross’ latest offering of uplifting electronica with female vocals.

Thyla release their debut EP in October and have shared the first track, Sticky Red. You don’t get too much female fronted grunge so Sticky Red is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Oslo Parks have just released their debut single on X Novo records.If you like the sound of Twin look out for the fantastic video produced by Jeb Hardwick from Phoria.

Samuel Organ has posted some more electronica to his Soundcloud page. Feeling Underwater starts off ambient before slipping into a slick house tune:

Heliopause gave use the heads up about the new video from Stuart Warwick, who have played a few live dates together recently. Here’s the haunting Sailors.

I Am Ampersand recently did a few solo shows supporting Pete Fij and Terry Bickers (whose new album Broken Heart Surgery is on our list of things to write about). To celebrate the event, they’ve put up a reworked version of I Thought I was Alone which originally appeared on 2012’s eponymous album

Soft Walls is the solo project from The Cold Pumas’ Dan Reeves. No Time is the the name of his new album, and also the name of the lead single which has a video from Innerstrings Light Show:

Flash Bang Band got in touch with us today to share the video for their new single Art History. Art History is the third and final single to be taken from last year’s album Bite Your Tongue.

Tied to the Mast have an album called Some Strange Chemistry on the way later this year. Some of the album has been produced by the legendary Stephen Street but the first track they’re sharing from the album – Melissa – was produced by the band’s guitarist Rhys:

Brighton Music Blog favourites IYES are back with another remix , this time sprinkling skittery beats and wonky electronica over The Night VI‘s Wonderlust:

Finally, we have a live video from Adolescent, playing K:TV from their recent Golden Halls EP:

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Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 23 / Fujiya & Miyagi – I Am Ampersand – Omega Male

Our first proper blog post of 2012 was about Fujiya & Miyagi. They had recorded a version of Your Silent Face for a cd of New Order covers given out with the February edition of Mojo magazine. While it might look like we’re spending all our time writing about Brighton music, secretly we’re huge New Order fans on the side, so the chance to slip some New Order into the blog was most welcome.

In February we spotted Matt Hainsby swapping his bass for an acoustic guitar onstage at the Bleeding Hearts Club under the name I Am Ampersand. He was the third member to join the band and “Fujiya” and “Miyagi” had already been grabbed, so he was left with the “&”. A few weeks later the ultra-limited but utterly brilliant 20 Seas 4 Oceans 7″ came out on the legendary Great Pop Supplement label. It came with a hand-made wood print. It’s got lyrics about a mer-man. The intro sounds a bit like an unplugged version of Spirit In The Sky. What more could you possibly want? Another great 7″ followed in the summer and a few weeks ago he rounded off the year with Grave Goods, an album of quirky psychedelic folk songs that you wouldn’t have expected from a member of Fujiya & Miyagi a year ago.

Matt Hainsby isn’t the only member of Fujiya & Miyagi who’s been involved with extra-curricular activities this year. David Best has teamed up with Sammy Rubin from Project Jenny Project Jan to form Omega Male, who also put out their album in November. Where Grave Goods wasn’t immediately recognisable as an album put out by a member of Fujiya & Miyagi, there’s no mistaking Best’s inescapable vocal style on Omega Male. Tucked at the end of the album was one of our favourite tracks this year – the incredibly gorgeous Buildings Like Symphonies, which combined with I Am Ampersand’s 20 Seas 4 Oceans, was the clincher for placing them so high in our list.

Omega Male / I Am Ampersand

It’s been nearly two years since the last Fujiya & Miyagi album Ventriloquizzing came out, so we’re about due another one. As it happens, we’ve got two. Or maybe none. Confused yet?

The next couple of weeks sees the release of Grave Goods by I Am Ampersand and the eponymously titled Omega Male. I Am Ampersand is the solo project by Matt Hainsby, Fujiya & Miyagi’s bass player and Ampersand. Omega Male is a collaboration between David Best and Project Jenny Project Jan’s Sammy Rubin.

Both albums start off sounding like they could be Fujiya & Miyagi’s own work. Omega Male, the opening track of the Omega Male album Omega Male (sorry, I couldn’t resist) reuses a technique David Best used on Ankle Injuries, repeatedly slipping in parts of the band name into the lyrics. The vocal style is unmistakeable and the track sounds like Fujiya and Miyagi with a heavy dose of electronics. I am Ampersand’s opener Lights and Radios also showcases Matt Hainsby’s contribution to Fujiya & Miyagi, with a bit rolling bassline and fizzing analogue electronics at the end. After the openers, the albums take on their own distinct personalities.

There are several options for you if you’re in a band but you want to pursue a side project – you could take what you do in the band and see how that works with other musicians, or you could use the opportunity of being free from the band’s style to do something rather different, and the two albums here show both those choices.

Fujiya & Miyagi and Project Jenny Project Jan have collaborated in the past, touring together and making the track Pins & Needles which appeared on  Project Jenny Project Jan’s Colors EP back in 2009, so it’s no great surprise to see David Best working with Sammy Rubin again. David Best’s trademark vocals, emphasising each syllable (there’s a track about saying sorry called Uh-Pol-Uh-Jet-Ik), make the album sound very familiar to those who know Fujiya & Miyagi, and work well combined with Sammy Rubin’s electronica. It’s not a dance album though – You Bore Me To Tears revels in Serge Gainsbourg’s long shadow, and the album’s closing track. Buildings Like Symphonies, is probably the most beautiful song I’ve heard this year. An 8-bit electronic melody opens things sounding like digital birdsong. A simple string line starts at the same time as Best’s hopeful lament. Over a verse or two, the strings build, joined by subtle horns. Halfway through a loose drumbeat kicks off, the strings are soaring, and you truly believe Best when he sings that “Rumours were circulating / that we could build / Buildings Like Symphonies”. It’s the magical chemistry that makes tracks like Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack or Gorecki by Lamb the classics that they are. Breathtaking.

I Am Ampersand also has another of my favourite tracks of the year on it – 20 Seas 4 Oceans has received heavy rotation in these parts since it received an ultra limited release on 7″ earlier this year. I was enjoying it for the music, sounding a little bit like an acoustic country-folk take on Spirit In The Sky, not paying nearly enough attention to the lyrics which, now I’ve read the press blurb, I can hear are all about the song’s narrator being a Merman living in a city wanting to return to the sea. Obviously. The rest of Grave Goods is lovely pastoral psychedelic folk-pop, at times sounding like some of Gruff Rhys’ quieter moments, never losing it’s edge and lapsing into something “nice”. Fujiya & Miyagi loom large on Eko, an uptempo instrumental midway through the album, and then it’s back to the wonky pop on the first proper single Holding The Negative Up To The Light. The album closes with the title track Grave Goods – the archaelogical term for possessions buried with bodies. Three and a half minutes of country twang ruminating on life and death, and everything you accumulate inbeween. A fitting close.

Omega Male by Omega Male is released on Full Time Hobby on 12th November, and play at the Blind Tiger on Tuesday 20th November as part of Melting Vinyl’s Oui Love night.

Grave Goods by I Am Ampersand is released on Great Pop Supplement on 19th November.

 

I am Ampersand / Holding the Negative up to the Light 7″

Back in January, I only gave I am Ampersand’s debut single “20 Seas, 4 Oceans” a passing mention in a blog post with a few other videos that were around, which is a travesty because it’s fantastic – four minutes of sunshine psychedelic folk pop. Matt Hainsby’s second 7″ is just as good. Holding the Negative up to the Light crams in even more ideas that it’s predecessor without losing any of the charm. And being the sucker for nice packaging that I am, I can only say good things about the translucent orange vinyl that it’s pressed on, and the screen print that comes tucked into the sleeve.

 

Negative is a tune of two halves – in the first half of the song, the vocals are accompanied by acoustic guitars and strings and then at around a minute and a half the song crumples then revives itself with effervescent analogue synths which bubble along and bring a completely different dynamic to the second half.

I Am Ampersand’s album is due later in the year on the Great Pop Supplement label. On the strength of his first two singles, it should be a corker!