WITH a strong focus on homegrown talent, this week’s New Music Radar features some of our favourite Scottish artists such as Declan Welsh & the Decadent West, Scarlett Randle, Wuh Oh, Aaron Smith, VanIves and more alongside the likes of Bully, Eaves Wilder, Declan McKenna and Rachel Chinouriri.
Declan Welsh & the Decadent West ‘Ghosted’
Declan Welsh & the Decadent West have returned with their first piece of new music since last year’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold’. Picking up where he left off, ‘Ghosted’ continues with the indie-rock anthemics delivered on his debut but there’s also evidence that he’s been honing his pop credentials. Familiar in its sharp melodies, charismatic vocals and singalong choruses, the track also features a sweeping synth-heavy middle 8 that’s soaked in nostalgia, reminiscent of The Cars ‘Just What I Needed’.
Exploring the trials of tribulation of being “ghosted” by a love interest, it’s a fun and brilliantly addictive return from Declan Welsh and his band The Decadent West.
Scarlett Randle ‘Lately’
After releasing her soulful, delicately rendered single ‘Blue’ last month, Scarlett Randle is switching things up in a big way on her new track ‘Lately’.
Soaring with pop ambition, Scarlett teams up with producer BOBBIE once again on the song but this time her heart-rending balladry is taken to new splendorous heights. Opening in rather understated fashion with Scarlett’s smooth vocals delivered over a simple piano melody, the track tentatively builds with shimmering electronics and tantalising beats, easing in to the chorus and back again before truly bursting into its peak just after the two minute mark. It’s one of those dance-like-no-one’s-watching moments; a moment that captures that all-consuming feeling of casting aside your inhibitions and just letting go; a jolt of pure pop euphoria.
Combining her gently soulful vocals and honest lyrical introspection with a more dynamic pop production, the track is gorgeously intimate one minute and bursting with sugary, passion-fuelled melodies the next. And with plenty of unpredictable pop flourishes and even choral gospel influences thrown into the mix, it all comes together to create Scarlett Randle’s biggest pop moment to date.
Wuh Oh ‘Softsyle’
With his third release of 2020, Glasgow producer Wuh Oh might just have released his finest track to date in ‘Softstyle’. Continuing to effortlessly traverse through a variation of distinct styles and genres, it’s almost as if Wuh Oh is crafting his own unique sub-genre of house music – one full of colour, eccentricity and unmistakable charisma. ‘Softstyle’ finds the right balance between virtuosic musicality and immediate dancefloor filler – a recurring vocal hook commandeers the frantic instrumental, alleviated only by a lulling breakdown that makes way for a big room trance section, steeped in heady euphoria and dancefloor vibes. We can only imagine the physical response this track will induce when it is eventually allowed to be played in a late-night venue. Until then, crank this song as loud as you can.
Aaron Smith ‘Your Turn Now’
With a seemingly irrepressible knack for crafting heart-rending piano-led ballads, Aaron Smith is back with another deeply moving track called ‘Your Turn Now’. While previous single ‘Brother’ featured a more fleshed-out arrangement, this new offering strips his music back to the very core again – his raw vocal take only joined by gentle harmonies and an evocative piano melody. Beyond the easy comparisons to Lewis Capaldi, Aaron Smith’s deeply honest lyricism and stirring ballads are so incredibly raw with emotion that it’s impossible not to be immersed in every track he produces.
After emerging in the middle of lockdown with the gorgeous ‘Babyshowers’, VanIves are back with another new offering called ‘Heartstuck’. Continuously pushing their genre-crossing sound into exciting new territories, the past few months certainly haven’t curtailed the band’s creative momentum with their latest track said to be the product of some late-night experimenting.
This time the trio opt for a more minimalist approach, deep detuned vocals weaving in and out of Stuart Ramage’s soulful delivery against a sparse yet dreamy production. The track picks up speed around the halfway mark for a brief interlude of racing beats and subtle electronics before dissolving away into a piano-led finish. It’s a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on The 1975’s latest album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ as VanIves flex their creative impulses once more while retaining the lush, heart-rending balladry that we’ve come to adore.
Neon Waltz ‘David Lynch’
Neon Waltz continue to roll out a series of old gems this week with ‘Supernumerary 2’ out today. Ahead of its release, Neon Waltz shared ‘David Lynch’ last night alongside some stark, appropriately Lynchian black and white visuals. Having regularly expressed their admiration for the film-maker, the track channels their evocative songwriting and sweeping anthemic style into something suitably more dark, dramatic and theatrical. Jordan Shearer’s crystalline vocals are delivered over an unmistakably dark and foreboding instrumental – lurching Nick Cave-like rhythms lead the way on the atmospheric verses before the song crashes to life on the thunderous choruses. It all builds up to a gripping and theatrical finale that takes off in style.
Glasgow duo HYYTS hit new levels of pop euphoria with the release of ‘The Low Sound’ back in April, their first since signing to major label Warner Music. Now, the duo are back strengthening their pop credentials even further with another hit-in-the-making ‘Dreamkiller’. Anchored by a steadier tempo, the track feels darker and more introspective than its predecessor yet soars with the same pop ambition as they channel inner torment into another slice of electro-pop gold. Full of soaring choruses, throbbing M83-style synths and kinetic beats, there’s a real night-time feel to ‘Dreamkiller’ which they say is lyrically centered around that really dark feeling of betrayal and dejection from a failed relationship”. Ont on the flipside, we also just wanted to write a really good pop song.”
Compelled by the contrast of dark and light, ‘Dreamkiller’ has been paired alongside a suitably cinematic, arthouse-horror-inspired video which mixes hallucinatory dreamscapes with nightmarish visuals akin to the likes of Ari Aster (Midsommar) and Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse).
Katherine Aly ‘God Breed’
Following the release of the dark and haunting ‘Misty Me’ at the start of lockdown, Katherine Aly is back with the brooding ‘God Breed’. Retaining the atmospheric feel of her previous work, the new track is built on a bedrock of shimmering electronics and deep, foreboding basslines that give off a sense of uneasiness as she reflects on what it is to be an artist.
Ultimately the track transforms into a tale of strength and solidarity though, embracing the idea that you can overcome whatever setbacks may be thrown your way as her lyrical anxieties take on an air of defiance. “Start again, don’t give up” she proclaims as the track approaches its rousing finale.
“God Breed is a song about the hardship of artistry. It’s inspired by stories of many different challenges artists face while following their calling and I wrote it as a manifesto for solidarity between artists and getting back on track after setbacks”.
wrest ‘A World That Has Left You Unspoken’
Edinburgh indie outfit wrest have shared a new 5-track EP called “A World That Has Left You Unspoken”. The new release arrives just over a year after the band’s acclaimed debut album ‘Coward Of Us All’ and was recorded entirely in lockdown between April and June, “an unexpected product of an unexpected event” the band say. Offering up an extension of the themes explored on their debut, finding light in the darkness and overcoming the setbacks and hardships thrown at us by the world, wrest strike an enticing balance between Scottish indie-rock, the sweeping atmospherics synonymous with post-rock and the tender musicality of folk. ‘Waiting For Poetry’ is the EP’s gentle opener – Stewart Douglas’ unmistakable Scottish brogue and poetic lyricism are brought to the forefront against a minimal backdrop that gradually comes t0 life with soaring guitar lines. It’s a common theme that runs throughout as they show their ability to turn intimate moments of personal reflection into vast, emotionally rousing soundscapes – particularly on the EP’s beautifully crafted lead single ‘A Perfectly Spherical World’ which builds to a soaring crescendo with pounding rhythms, ghostly harmonies and twinkling guitar lines.
An EP that comes straight from the heart, ‘A World That Has Left You Unspoken’ is a product of the strange times we find ourselves in – there’s a definite feeling of melancholy and fragility woven into its being but there’s also space for reflection and a sense of cautious optimism that rings through its heart-on-sleeve lyrics and blossoming soundscapes. Fans of The National, Frightened Rabbit, Idlewild and We Were Promised Jetpacks should tune in now.
Eaves Wilder ‘Won’t You Be Happy’
Launching on new imprint Little Cousins, Eaves Wilder has released her euphoric debut single ‘Won’t You Be Happy’. Written on the first day of lockdown and mixed remotely by Blur producer Stephen Street, the track opens in rather sedate fashion before exploding to life with the surging, guitar-driven chorus. Spurred on by the sounds of The Pretenders and rather appropriately Blur’s debut album ‘Leisure’, it’s an emphatic introduction to the young singer-songwriter – the kind of euphoric guitar summer anthem we need as lockdown measure start to lift.
Declan McKenna ‘Daniel, You’re Still a Child’
The latest cut to emerge from Declan McKenna’s upcoming album ‘Zeros’ is the glam and glitzy ‘Daniel, You’s Still A Child’. As if taken straight from David Bowie’s songbook, McKenna orbits off to space on the new track with pulsing basslines, vibrant synths and some proper electrifying rock’n’roll riffs. He’s also announced a massive 20201 tour that will see him play Glasgow’s SWG3 on 12th April.
Rachel Chinouriri ‘Beautiful Disaster’
Rachel Chinouriri returned last week with the stunning ‘Beautiful Disaster’. Known for her poetic and emotive lyricism, this latest track sees her bare her soul even more as she considers the beauties of being along. Featuring vocals from rising star Sam Dotia, the pair deliver their intricate lyrics and soothing vocals against a rather disorienting instrumental backdrop. It’s a beautiful and utterly transfixing listen.
Easy Life ‘Pop Tarts’
Easy Life have emerged from lockdown with a brand new single called ‘Pop Tarts’. Emanating the same swagger as their previous tracks, the new songs sees them add some wobbly, spacey synths to their rich melting pot of sounds. Led by Murray’s confident rap-like vocals, it’s a track that teems with nostalgia and has been released alongside ‘Nightmares’ as a double single titled ‘who gives a f**k?’
Bully ‘Every Tradition’
After making an emphatic return with ‘Where To Start’, Bully continue the build-up to their next album SUGAREGG with the riff-driven ‘Every Tradition’. It’s a fierce and defiant anthem for those who don’t want to fall in line with the expectations placed on them as lead singer Alicia Bognanno rails against the many traditions she has no interest in upholding. All sneering vocals and fuzzed-up guitars, she says ““‘Every Tradition’ is one of the most literal songs on the record, forcing myself throughout the writing process to cut out the bullshit and put down on paper exactly what was going through my mind, silencing the paranoia of the different ways it could be received. Some songs just call for that sort of process and ‘Every Tradition’ was one of them ”
Wesley Joseph ‘Ghostin’
Having already gained a considerable amount of traction with tunes like ‘Martyrs’ and ‘Imaginary Friends’, newcomer Wesley Joseph released a pop-soul-dance jam this week called ‘Ghostin’. Teaming up with none other than Joy Orbison who is on production duties, the pair forge a deeply atmospheric sonic palette full of experimental grooves and nostalgic vibes.
He says “Ghostin’ is a real melting pot of flavours, and working with Joy O on the production created a natural exchange of palettes; blending soul, dance and experimental grooves with a melancholic, nostalgic undertone. The base of the song was produced the first time we met, and the hypnotic dance-like pulse with jazz chords set an off-tone vibe for the lyrics – which kind of wrote themselves on the bus home from the session”
Future Islands ‘For Sure’
Future Islands surprised fans this week with their first piece of new music in three years – new single ‘For Sure’. Without treading too far from where they left off, the track boasts the quintessential Future Islands blend of thumping drums, big vibrant, cinematic synths and swooning guitar melodies with Samuel Herring as charismatic as ever on lead vocals. It’s another stirring retro-pop banger to add to their catalogue.