ON this 99th edition of New Music Radar we shine a light on Scottish acts like Neon Waltz, The Ritz, Hazeydays, Lucy Barton and those from more far-flung locales like Haim and Confidence Man.
Neon Waltz ‘All in Good Time’
Neon Waltz have returned with their first piece of new music since the propulsive and anthemic ‘Friends Who Lost Control’ earlier this year. Recorded live at Freswick Castle in their home of Caithness, the stunning recording finds the band pushing the parameters of their sound once more in what is an emphatic return to the swirling, song-rooted psych-pop that we’ve come to know and love.
Led by a bright tap of keys, ‘All in Good Time’ immediately recalls the twilight-tinged sounds of Arctic Monkey’s intergalactic odyssey Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino before it opens up into one of the band’s signature soaring choruses. Sumptuous vocal harmonies and layers of instrumentation come together in what is sure to be a lighters-in-the-air moment at their upcoming gigs.
The fact that the track is recorded live is testament to their undeniable chemistry. Smooth and effortless in execution, it unfolds patiently with subtle charm and understated beauty.
A few weeks after making their Tenement Trail debut with a late-night slot at The Dam, Hazeydays are back and in fine form on their latest single ‘Lipstick’. The Airdrie outfit are able to evoke the Britpop bluster of Blur, the jagged riffs of The Strokes and the cocksure swagger of The Streets in one fell swoop as the track speeds in at just over a minute and a half in length. Driven by pummelling beats, a scorching bassline and duelling guitars, it’s a song that demands attention and Hazeydays are sure to get it with more new material on the horizon. Keen to carve out their own space in a scene dominated by punk bands, Hazeydays could be a refreshing addition to Scotland’s indie landscape.
Ross Carter ‘Ghosts’
After first coming onto our radar a couple of months ago with his debut single ‘G42’, Ross Carter is back with another piece of R&B-infused pop. Carefully crafting a sound that is distinctly modern yet effectively minimalist, ‘Ghosts’ deals with the end of a relationship as two people grow further and further apart. Shifting from feelings of denial to acceptance, the Glasgow-based artist is more forthright in his lyricism this time around while his crystalline pop vocal emotes and yearns over the dream-like production. Punctuated by cool trap beats, it’s a slick and polished return from Carter that has us intrigued as to where he’ll go next.
First spotted busking on the streets of Inverness by the bookers behind Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, TAMZENE has since gone onto perform at MUSEXPO in LA, Live at Leeds, The Great Escape, TRNSMT, Latitude, Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival and many other major music events in the past couple of years. With a great deal of anticipation surrounding the singer-songwriter’s next step, the last 12 months have been spent honing in on her sound, working with a number of co-writers and producers in order to showcase a richer and bolder side to her many talents. Today she unveils only her fourth single ‘You’re With Somebody Now’ and it finds her planting her feet firmly in the world of contemporary pop.
A track that is sure to appeal to the masses, the modern production style importantly retains the soulfulness and range that got us all hooked in the first place as Tamzene’s incredible vocal emotes and soars over melancholic verses and swelling choruses. Reflecting on a lost love, the track speaks of heartbreak, nostalgia and regret and is said to “come from an honest place of pain and realisation”.
Lucy Barton ‘Roadrunner’
Introducing Lucy Barton, a compelling addition to the landscape of alternative pop. With a very minimal online presence, there’s an element of mystery that surrounds the artist who has only unveiled one other single thus far. The follow-up to ‘Clay’ is the strangely visceral ‘Roadrunner’, a unique depiction of Barton’s own internal conversation with a critical voice. Designed to mirror the intense back and forth we experience when we face up to criticism, whether that be from outside forces or from our own mind, ‘Roadrunner’ conveys a feeling of imprisonment through its relentless house beats, visceral vocals and electronics. Oscillating between chaos and tranquillity, there’s an element of catharsis that ultimately breaks through as the singer embraces her own strength. It’s a fierce introduction to an artist who shows an appreciation for the feel of music as much as the physical technicality of it.
SIIGHTS ‘One More’
Irish/Scottish duo SIIGHTS are back with the second preview of their upcoming debut EP. Opening with a minimalist piano melody, ‘One More’ gradually develops with dark synth layers and hypnotic dual vocals, showcasing a very modern production style that suggests the duo are really starting to hit their stride. The track itself explores the struggles and emptiness of romantic encounters in an online world as they display a more heartfelt and emotionally acute side of their songwriting. Already racking up over 100,000 plays on Spotify, ‘One More’ will see them gather even more momentum ahead of their EP release, out via LAB Records.
The Ritz ‘Bootlager’
East Kilbride has proved to be a breeding ground for some of Scotland’s most exciting emerging acts in recent times with the likes of Declan Welsh & the Decadent West, Fauves and Spyres all making their mark. The latest band to emerge are a rock four-piece called The Ritz who have unveiled their debut single ‘Bootlager’. Produced by Jamie Holmes, the track is relentless from the very get-go, driven by incessant rhythms, strident guitar parts and elevated by rousing gritty vocal harmonies. Blessed with the confident swagger of a group who are a lot further down the line, it’s a brilliantly raucous introduction from an outfit who are just getting started.
Confidence Man ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’
Confidence Man are back with a taste of brand new music in the shape of ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’. It’s another glorious banger that sparkles and shines with their very own raw exuberance. Tantalising 90s dance beats and disco vibes channel the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer with Janet Planet and Sugar Bones once again taking the lead, being their usual charismatic selves over tantalising rhythms, hypnotic keys and a vibrant whirl of house pop and disco.
Sports Team ‘The Races’
Premiered as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’ on Radio 1 this week, the band’s latest instalment is dominated by a scorching bassline and frontman Alex Rice’s urgent vocal. Full of their signature hooks and fuzz-laden swagger, the six-piece once again offer a wry commentary on middle English tedium, this time turning their heads towards misguided patriotism and questionable politics. Tailor-made for their frenetic, high energy live shows and recorded at Livingston Studios with long-time collaborator Burke Reid, frontman Alex Rice says: “Oli came in one morning with the opening bass idea and we’d finished the song in a morning. It was unusually easy. It’s a lot of fun to play.”
The Big Moon ‘Take a Piece’
Since returning with ‘It’s Easy Then’ earlier this year, The Big Moon’s comeback has been like a breath of fresh air. Swapping the love songs of their fizzing debut for thornier, more thought-provoking lyrical insights while consciously embracing their poppy sensibilities, the quartet’s upcoming album ‘Walking Like We Do’ looks set to feature some of their boldest and brightest work to date. Premiered on Radio 1 this week as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’, the band’s new single ‘Take a Piece’ is about as poptastic as we’ve ever heard them. Initially written by Juliette Jackson with a specific pop star in mind, it is designed to capture the vulnerability of being a world-famous performer and the scary, often isolating feeling of creating a meaningful piece of art. It has been teamed with an equally pop-centric video that sees the band perform in the style of famous 90s music videos.
Haim unveiled an intimate, stripped-backed ballad this week called ‘Hallelujah’. An ode to the special people around them and their relationship as sisters, it’s a deeply moving track about “family, love, loss and being thankful for it all”. Delivered against a delicate finger picked melody, the track has been accompanied by a video directed by frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s the latest addition to their rich and varied output this year, showcasing another side to their talents after the release of ‘Now I’m In It’ and ‘Summer Girl’.