WE have a flurry of exciting new artists to introduce this week with Lizzie Reid, Alex Amor and Ruby Gaines all unveiling their debut singles. On top of that, our essential tracks of the week include Autobahn 86, Man of Moon, Vistas, Edwin Organ, Royal Blood and more.
Lizzie Reid ‘Tribute’
There’s something so beautifully timeless and comforting about Lizzie Reid’s voice that it’s hard not to feel like she has been around forever. Having been a regular performer on the Glasgow live circuit for the past couple of years, those who have been treated to her stunning live shows will know exactly the kind of powerful effect her tender folk-inflected ballads can have; often known to hold entire venues to a complete standstill with her beguiling vocals and meticulous lyrical observations. Of course, the decision to hold back on unveiling any recorded material until now may have been torturous for the rest of us but it’s a decision that has paid off; ‘Tribute’ is a gorgeous debut that speaks of humble yet tentative self-awareness. Recorded as a voice note on her phone, the track crackles with devastatingly raw emotion as she tenderly plucks her acoustic guitar and reflects on a past relationship and her own growth. She said of the track “Tribute is about seeking something in other people and it not working out the way you had hoped. I realised that I had to let go of feeling in control, having expectations and to be okay with the idea of change”.
A track so beautifully crafted that it wouldn’t sound out of place next to Laura Marling’s most introspective offerings, ‘Tribute’ is a stunning introduction to one of Scotland’s brightest new stars.
Autobahn 86 ‘Silence’ ft Johnny Madden
Autobahn 86 are back with another onslaught of synths, drums and bass with ‘Silence’. Featured on this track is Johnny Madden of Baby Strange, who comes in at about the 30 second mark with a singing-come-speaking (or sprechgesang seeing as this is Autobahn 86) single note refrain that repeats throughout, providing a kind of hypnotic quality to the song as it sets you up for drop after drop. Both of their releases now have guest appearances from big figures in Scotland’s punk scene, but Autobahn 86 are definitely a surprise package. They have all the aggression and excitement of a rock outfit but are brave enough to mix things up sonically. They’re certainly a band you’ll want to see live when gigs make their long awaited return. Check out ‘Silence’ today
Alex Amor ‘The Part With Each Other’
Another brand new addition to Radar, Glaswegian Alex Amor has been holed up in the studio in London for some time now, steadily building up to the release of her debut single. Now it’s out in the world we can see why she’s already attracting interest from top industry figures. ‘The Part With Each Other’ pairs the dreamy soundscapes of Tame Impala with the emotional specificity of Big Thief; distinctly modern in execution and a completely immersive listen. This is an artist to watch out for.
Ruby Gaines ‘Cardamom’
Those who have had their wits about them over the last few weeks will have noticed the name Ruby Gaines imprinted on several walls around Glasgow in a splash of bright blue and orange. A vibrant addition to the city’s ever-growing music scene, today the singer arrives in full technicolour with the release of her eagerly anticipated debut single ‘Cardamom’.
Ruby Gaines is the bold new project of singer-songwriter Megan Airlie, previously known for singles such as ‘Honey’ and ‘After River’ and winning ‘Best Acoustic’ at the SAMAs in 2018. After recently teaming up with newly formed Glasgow-based label and management outfit ICEBLINK LUCK, co-founded by Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood) and Robert Kilpatrick (Scottish Music Industry Association), Airlie has unleashed new creative inspiration through her Ruby Gaines persona with ‘Cardamom’ marking her first turn in the spotlight. With her timeless, delectably smooth vocals sitting front and centre of the track, she channels definitive influences such as Billie Holiday and Fiona Apple, evoking strong feelings of longing and desire against a jazz-influenced instrumental that builds to a soaring, emotional climax. Produced in a renovated church in Galashiels in order to give it a distinctively raw and improvisational feel, it’s a striking amalgamation of the old and the new; a refreshing addition to the city’s ever-evolving soundscape.
She said “Cardamom’ came sweetly to me in the early hours. It felt like I had finally solidified the newness of my sound and being that I’d been trying to encompass. It felt like metamorphosis and I was elated to leave my old skin behind and journey deeper into the sound and taste of this new musical direction (which I feel runs parallel to my own personal development). I wanted to deliver saccharine feelings similar to the weightless mornings felt after a night of love and contentment.”
Edwin Organ ‘Self Alarm’
This week Edwin Organ dropped indie-pop number ‘Self Alarm’. He’s been a fairly prolific artist during the pandemic, with this being his second original release on top of a remix of Man of Moon’s ‘Skin’. ‘Self Alarm’ is a continuation of his signature sound with quirky synths and off-kilter melodies and rhythms throughout. Those not yet familiar with Edwin Organ’s brand of moody, indie-pop will find similarities to artists such as Hot Chip or !!!. ‘Self Alarm’ is an introspective exploration of anxiety, with its existential lyrical content delivered in a nicely produced and well written piece of DIY pop. Check out ‘Self Alarm’ now
Zoe Graham ‘Gradual Move’ EP
After initially making herself known for her acoustic, folk-inspired creations, Zoe Graham emerged at the tail end of last year with a bold new sound. Pairing her lyrical nous with stylish synth melodies and expansive drums, the singer displayed a desire to explore new ground and has since gone onto unleash the full extent of her pop ambition. Graham’s new EP is blessed with sumptuous melodic layers and a sophisticated production, gliding through recent singles ‘Gradual Move’, ‘Sleep Talking’ and ‘Know By Now’ and culminating with a brand new offering called ‘Fault Lines’ . Graham still has a captivating knack for songcraft – ‘Gradual Move’ shifts between the poignant and self-affirming – and when she pairs her endearing vocals and storytelling flair with these carefully crafted arrangements, we see her pop credentials soar to new heights.
The Byson Family ‘Hope and Pray’
After his successful tenure with The Temperance Movement, consummate frontman Phil Campbell did what any good artist should do- he refused to rest on his laurels. Now four singles into the Byson Family lineage, the group have came in like a cyclone of raucous guitars, insistent rhythms and those monumental vocals that render each lyrical sentiment in an extra layer of intrigue. Invoking the spirit of The Allman Brothers at their most unconstrained, it’s a palette cleanser for all that want to be confronted with the vigour of rock ‘n’ roll in its traiditional mould.
Man Of Moon ‘Dark Sea’
Today marks the arrival of Man of Moon’s long-awaited debut album ‘Dark Sea’. In our review (which you can read in full HERE), we said “Musically this album has a lot of identifiable influences. Man of Moon have always had a sort of post-punk duo style akin to Suicide, and that influence is very much still there, but its now blending with shades of Radiohead, psychedelia, late 90s/early 2000s rock/metal, and even shades of acid house at times. ‘Dark Sea’ is consistent without being repetitive, and varied without feeling scattergun. We’ve always been fans of Man of Moon, and although this album feels like it was perhaps a long time in the making, it was certainly worth the wait.”
Royal Blood ‘Trouble’s Coming’
Three years after the release of their brooding second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, Royal Blood have burst back into the spotlight with a new disco-influenced song called ‘Trouble’s Coming’. Described by the duo as “disco meets AC/DC” , the track injects some serious dancefloor energy into their riff-heavy rock sound with electronic flourishes and infectious rhythms. It is also said to have been a major turning point in the creation of their upcoming third album.
“We realised that this much dancier sound really leant itself to the kind of music we were already making,” says Mike Kerr Kerr. “We found this through-line between classic rock, dance music and disco music where, to me, some of the best fretting ever is AC/DC. They always play over this straight beat. It’s just like a heartbeat through the songs that never stops. Then these riffs just cut over the top. All we had to do was speed it up and it gave us this new approach to what we did. It felt like we were seeing in colour for the first time.
The Cribs ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’
The Cribs have teamed up with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo on their new tune ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’. Having previously collaborated on’Be Safe’, a bonafide fan favourite from their ‘Men’s Need’s, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ album, the new offering has the same improvisational feel as the 2007 track but is entirely its own entity. The Jarmans’ introspective lyrics are delivered against some spectacular riffage featuring layers of Ranaldo’s own searing guitar lines. The Sonic Youth man also lends impressive harmonies to Gary Jarman’s emotional vocal display with the track said to centre around the Jarman brothers’ disconnect with their “biological paternal lineage – and how that may have shaped our views on masculinity, gender roles, and the men we ultimately grew up to be.”
They added “‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ (although ultimately quite different) came together in much the same way as ‘Be Safe’ did back in 2006 – we had a recording of a long, improvised noise-jam which we then tried to refine into a more cohesive song structure”
METZ ‘Blind Youth Industrial Pack’
Toronto hardcore outfit METZ pull absolutely no punches on their raging new single ‘Blind Youth Industrial Pack’. The track is the third single from their imminent fourth studio album, ‘Atlas Vending’, slated for release on October 9 via Sub Pop. A raucous display of big, dirty riffs and blistering rhythms, it strikes the sweet spot between melodic and hard as hell.
IDLES ‘Ultra Mono’
Following the widespread success their 2018 album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’, IDLES are back with their third full-length offering ‘Ultra Mono’. Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy) with hip-hop producer Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work and throw a goofy sense of humour into the mix, rattling through themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity across 12 breakneck tracks. With guest contributions from Jehnny Beth (Savages), Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum, the album opens with the urgent and furious ‘War’, Joe Talbot’s onomatopoeic lyrics delivered against a cacophony of distortion and percussion-heavy production. It sets the tone for what’s to come with a raw energy bursting from every track, other highlights including the hip-hop indebted ‘Grounds’ and penultimate track ‘A Hymn’. With the help of Kenny Beats, there’s a newfound insularity to the their sound; an oppressive sense of claustrophobia that seems appropriate in the current climate. It’s as if drummer Jon Beavis and bassist Adam Devonshire have discovered an extra gear on these new songs, pummelling through abrasive tracks like ‘Kill Them With Kindness’, ‘The Lover’ and ‘Carcinogenic’ while adding greater dynamics to their unwavering manifesto.
While they have proved to be a divisive act over the last couple of years (and some of the criticism aimed at them has been justified), the arrival of a new IDLES record at the moment can only be cause for celebration. Relentless from the very get-go, the band tackle the troubling world around them and their dissenters in incendiary fashion. With a greater appreciation for songcraft, ‘Ultra Mono’ is the sound of a band playing to their strengths; a collection of invigorating tracks that will undoubtedly inspire and empower listeners far and wide.
Effervescent but affecting all at once, Redolent slink their way into your nervous system with ‘Aspartame.’ Nowhere near as synthetic as the chemical compound that it extracts its name from, the Edinburgh four-piece have conjured up something that is subtle in its psycedelia but heavy on the groove. Maintained by transcendental guitars and unobtrusive but no less striking vocals, the group have prefaced this as the first track to be taken from their upcoming album, with a new track slated to be revealed on a monthly basis. And if ‘Aspartame’ has set the tone for what’s to come, we’ll be checking in at regular intervals.
Talkboy ‘Stupid Luck’
Following the release of last year’s ‘Over and Under’ EP, Leeds indie sextet Talkboy are back with a woozy slice of guitar-pop called ‘Stupid Pick’. The nostalgic track picks from elements of shoegaze and driving indie-rock with its effortlessly catchy melodies, hazy soundscapes and more-ish guitar lines. Sweet and sentimental, it’s a welcome addition to their catalogue.
April ‘Watching You Disappear’
One of the breakthrough Irish musical talents of 2020, April has shared a moving new single called ‘Watching You Disappear’. Channelling the melodic appeal of her debut EP through a deeper lens, the track is all hypnotic vocals and elegant R&B infused pop. An ode to hazy nights out and nights spent listening to James Blake, she said “I wrote ‘Watching You Disappear’ at a time I was going out loads and doing things to take my mind off things and feelings, so the title is basically about me watching someone fade away in my mind as I preoccupy my brain! I used to listen to ‘I’ll Come Too’ by James Blake every night I’d go out, so I put the lyric ‘I’m in that kinda mood’ in my song as a little homage”
A new addition to Dirty Hit, Viji unveiled her debut single ‘Cherry’ last week and it’s very good indeed. Written about an unrequited crush, the track is a mix of tender lyrics, grungy guitars, luminous synths and hook-laden melodies. Finding a nice balance between the buoyant and the melancholic, it’s an understated yet memorable introduction to the singer-songwriter.
Ward Thomas ‘Someday’
With their fourth album ‘Invitation’ slated for release next Friday, country-pop Ward Thomas have shared a soaring new single ‘Someday’. Inspired by a long-distance relationship, the track finds the duo’s luscious harmonies adorned with euphoric string sections and yearning optimism.
Sam Johnson ‘Changes’
Following the release of ‘The Kids are Alright’ and ‘Peter Pan’ earlier this year, rising singer-songwriter Sam Johnson is back with a soaring new single called ‘Changes’. The piano-led track is said to stem from an important turning point in the singer’s life and is marked by its euphoric peaks and anthemic choruses. Continuing to build momentum with each release, it will feature on his new EP ‘Are We There Yet?’.
Off the back of achieving what so many Scottish bands can only ever dream of – selling out the Barrowlands – Vistas have dropped yet another feel good banger, ‘Comfort’. Vistas have long been regarded as one of Scotland’s most exciting up and coming acts, but since the release of their album and subsequent singles they have solidified their status as a household name, not just in their native land but the whole of the UK. ‘Comfort’ bears all their trademarks; bright, sharp production, never ending guitar hooks and huge vocal lines that will be filling venues up and down the UK very soon. This has all the makings of a Vistas classic and, if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to their Barrowlands show in March, is sure to whet your appetite for their live return.
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