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Turn Up The Fire (Single)

Nova Miller

BMG Records / 21:12 Entertainment

Classy pop music by way of Nova Miller and her latest single ‘Turn Up The Fire’. With her roots firmly set in Sweden, there is a definite Scandinavian feel to the fresh pop sound on offer here. ‘Turn Up The Fire’ possesses a crisp production and is filled with bright electronic beats that really get behind the song’s chorus, and lend weight to the sentiments of love expressed during this current single. With an equally classy video that accompanies the single release; filmed on location in Iceland with breath-taking backdrops and Nova Miller at the centre of this (naturally), there is a definite resilience to this Swedish songstress echoed by the song’s lyrics, in addition to having to brave the cold climate or, more to the point, embracing it! No matter as the passionate tones burning a trail through ‘Turn Up the Fire’ are enough to warm up the coldest of hearts and make one believe that love really can prevail.

Released 23 February


Factory Blues (Single)

Country Heroes

Safe & Sound Recordings

A genuine country sound straight outta Norway! Brushing down their country attire for a fresh outing are Norwegians, Country Heroes, and their brand new single ‘Factory Blues’. With the band having formed in 2014, and one full album (‘Southern Insecurity’) behind them, Country Heroes issue first single, ‘Factory Blues’, from their upcoming sophomore album ‘Honky Tonk Tears’. By focusing on the blue collar sector of workers, the factory theme reminds of a 70s era when such labour was in high demand and probably at its peak, especially in terms of output. In addition, country music pretty much dominated the (UK) airwaves during said period, and this is where the ‘Factory Blues’ of the Country Heroes is most reminiscent of, despite hailing from the southern plains of Norway. With a miniscule rock edge to the country guitars, ‘Factory Blues’ is a fairly detailed overview of a typical working week where banter can fly between workers, cigarettes and coffee are consumed and, of course, hard work being the main, and toughest part of all. But it remains the anticipation of the end of the working week where one is working to live rather than living to work as it’s all about hitting the (honky tonks) bars and going out dancing. All of these details are expertly handled by Country Heroes, who maintain a steady rhythm throughout, with wonderful narration from vocalist Jørund Vålandsmyr who is never overpowering yet manages to capture your attention with considerable ease. Lap up these ‘Factory Blues’ from 9 to 5 because there is much promise to come from this country band.

Released Out now


Colours Change Their Tone EP

The Crowleys


Following on from previous singles – the glorious shimmering guitar sounds of ‘L.A. Sunset’, and the equally engaging and upbeat tempo of ‘Midnight Blue’ – Canadian indie psychedelic outfit The Crowleys return with a brand new release ‘Colours Change Their Tone’. The quartet see their creative efforts extend to a full EP, containing a total of six tracks. The first taste of the band’s new record arrives in the form of ‘Pink Rainbows’ that radiates genuine warmth, and where one can visualise a golden sunset via its mellow rhythm generated by acoustic and electric guitars and synths. It’s a beautiful entrance and one that possesses similarities with its neighbouring cousin ‘L.A. Sunset’ where influences can be heard from Cocteau Twins, Delays and MGMT, but with one notable difference where folk pop concludes ‘Pink Rainbows’ journey. Any further pop references can be heard during the ensuing ‘Midnight Blue’, which saunters along at a far breezier pace and offers another dimension via its vocals by means of a vocoder to help give voice to the robotic figure central to the band’s music video that accompanied its earlier release. ‘Stargazer’ has a whiff of more recent composition about it as The Crowleys twist and turn their psychedelic melodies into something possessing a darker tone, and certainly more robust around its edges, largely due to the buzzing and jarring synths propelling the song along. The closing ‘Pansy Party Extravaganza’ sees the band flex their musical muscles as they collectively, and rather skilfully, navigate their way through an instrumental that is almost bleeding in feedback by its conclusion. It looks like The Crowleys has genuinely given meaning to the expression of the title of their latest EP, because there is enough colour and creativity expressed by their beautiful and blissed-out soundscapes, which can investigate darker emotions as well, but there is always a sense of light at the end of their musical ventures and therefore optimism.

Released Out now


Muscle Memory (Single)


Falling under such descriptive banners as ‘alternative pop’, ‘art pop’, ‘chamber pop’ or quite simply ‘indie’ is the latest single from Toronto artist Kira May. Having composed the song herself, as well as serving as producer with additional help by way of Sandro Perri at 6 Nassau studios, Kira May very much assumes a hands-on approach when it comes to new single ‘Muscle Memory’. Once it becomes clear that ‘Muscle Memory’ centres on issues associated with anxiety and depression, the reasons for such a personal attachment to this latest musical creation from Kira May becomes even more apparent because they are issues that have personally affected her. With references to the “damaging effects of negative interpersonal relationships”, but with a firm desire to move forward and leave such feelings in the past, ‘Muscle Memory’ gives the impression of wrestling with such emotions as its packed full of ideas where it sounds as if its rhythm is floating in one instance, only to stutter the next before heading towards a more heavenly conclusion of vocals, brass and electronic strings. ‘Muscle Memory’ is the sound of  Björk  and Florence + the Machine joining forces, but more specifically it’s the sound of Kira May and a very personal one at that.

Released Out now


Zero Dawn EP


Obscure Music

A band that falls under the metal, stoner rock and sludge rock categories but crossing the border of indie due to this being a self-released effort (hence our label), Zero Dawn hail from Finland and bring three new tracks to the world labelled under the heading ‘Zero Dawn’. Having set up their stall in 2015, Obscure has gathered enough musical nous to produce a sound that reveals much expertise and undoubted quality. Such experience shines through in abundance during latest EP ‘Zero Dawn’. From the scattergun rhythm of the record’s title track and P. Veteli’s slightly gruff and passionate vocals keeping pace, the rest of the contents of ‘Zero Dawn’ follow in similar footsteps. It’s probably a fair assessment to suggest that the following ‘Low Low Down’ and ‘River’ actually surpass the EP’s opening song in terms of quality, with the former track remaining at a steady beat yet managing to really get under your senses with its steely guitar sound and ditto the vocals once more, whereas the concluding ‘River’ offers a faster tempo yet no more compelling than its preceding number such are the strengths of both tracks. Overall, ‘Zero Dawn’ provides enough evidence to suggest that Obscure has plenty of ideas in their musical locker to pave the way for a full-length album if the desire is there.

Released Out now


Evocation (Single)

Up River

Holy Roar Records

Seemingly coming out of nowhere is the brand new single from post-hardcore outfit, Up River. With a mini-tour of the UK fast approaching, Up River unleashes an absolute powerhouse of a single in the form of ‘Evocation’. The latest release from the Brighton-based band certainly lives up to their press billing that suggests their “music has grown more despondent, desperate and dragged down with emotional weight.” ‘Evocation’ gives way to such thoughts as it’s a two minute blast of thrashing guitars and vocals that are stripped bare, alluding to the aforementioned desperate feelings, as the song rallies its final few drops of energy before collapsing under the emotional weight felt. It’s compelling stuff and the sort of track that every so often has a habit of shaking up the system, for all the right reasons, to serve as a reminder that we should never just settle for mediocrity. As far as surprise packages go, this is one of the very best!

Released 2 February


Scale Of Blindness

Benjamin Finger

Eilean Records

Limited to 150 copies is the new album from Benjamin Finger ‘Scale Of Blindness’. The album marks a second outing on Eilean Records for the Norwegian composer, electronic music producer, DJ, photographer and film-maker after the critically well received ‘Pleasurably Lost’ in 2015. With eight tracks mapping out the landscape of ‘Scale Of Blindness’, Benjamin Finger wastes no time in terms of decoding the ideas entrenched inside his mind and crafting these into ambient sounds. What transpires is a gritty and grainy beginning, where lights fizz and stutter and illuminate the surroundings for the briefest of periods as life in general gives way to a feeling of rolling continuously in a dark vacuous space, which is the impression given by openers ‘Halogen Flux’ and ‘Anxiety Blues’. With mere snippets of samples and sounds used, which are then looped into greater reels of sounds, the effects utilised work tremendously during ‘If Memory Preserves’, which offers a brooding tone full of electronic keys humming and tinkling intensely as well as drifting into mere wisps of noise adding to the mystery of the monologue taking place of what sounds like an inquest of one particular tragic incident in the US. The fascination continues with ‘Vagabond Void’ as it emerges into the light, electronics blinking, before breaking and splintering and seeing its particles drift into, and along the fragmented signals emanating from ‘Fragrant Darkness’. It would appear that Benjamin Finger has worked tirelessly to create a wonderful and truly captivating experience that illustrates feelings of loneliness and isolation encompassed by latest album ‘Scale Of Blindness’ that so often throws up shining beacons of light in the bleakest of spaces (‘Vanishing Faces’, ‘Falling Asleep’), to more abrasive creations (‘Fragrant Darkness’) that sound cut adrift and completely lost in the dark void suggested. It’s a masterwork, and it’s called ‘Scale Of Blindness’.

Released Out now


Doubt Mines EP

Terrible Love

Big Scary Monsters

There seems no cure for the emotions expressed here. Cracked love, open wounds and downright despair is what you’re likely to get when it comes to the latest release from post-hardcore outfit Terrible Love. The gap experienced from 2015’s ‘Change Nothing’ EP and latest release, ‘Doubt Mines’, was down to reasons concerning shifts in personnel, a period of writer’s block, to everyday concerns of working overtime due to busy schedules, but thankfully the five-piece band from London managed to overcome all such obstacles in order to deliver this rather fine release. The delay in terms of reaching this stage was clearly worth it once ‘Doubt Mines’ unravels its contents and displays subtle differences that reveal genuine signs of development from what was a magnificent effort in ‘Change Nothing’. The differences lie in the splashes of melody that can be heard throughout opener ‘First Flowers’, and the generally more considered approach of ‘Separate Graves’ that really take this band to another level without losing any of the previous tension and angst which has so far shaped their career. Add to that vocals that are stripped bare and raw and full of honest confessions, then Terrible Love remain a rare breed of band who are vital in these troubled times.

Released 2 February


Baksida På Operaen (Single)

Stian Fjelldal


Norwegian artist Stian Fjelldal enters the New Year with the release of ‘Baksida På Operaen’, which is the third single to be taken from his album ‘Idioten’. With very little info on the desk regarding Fjelldal and his musical content, only lengthens the mystery and one worth pursuing in the course of finding more answers. Unfortunately, the quest for answers continues to remain a mystery, in addition to any queries relating to the rear entrance of the opera house remaining equally mysterious, only to say that the ode penned to this particular landmark in the centre of Norway’s capital suggests an unbridled talent, and one skilfully plying his trade via a mixture of hushed vocals that verge on spoken word whilst mild electronica swirls all around. It makes for compelling listening, especially given the added teaspoonful of eccentricity that brings to mind Scotland’s Mull Historical Society. No matter the shortage of answers because the only answer you’ll get once hearing ‘Baksida På Operaen’ is to buy this magnificent single in droves!

Released Out now


London Is Trouble (Single)

Sol Heilo

Propeller Recordings

London can be an overrated commodity, just as other cities around the world can provide the same or similar experiences. Such feelings are expressed by Sol Heilo and latest single ‘London Is Trouble’, which is a rather beautiful and intimate acoustic folk song, and one written after the realisation of many years of life on the road with main focus Katzenjammer that the early promise of rock ‘n’ roll was becoming something of a chore rather than to be celebrated. Closer attention to detail reveals a solo singer baring her soul and missing certain aspects of her life back home, the snow for example, and thus channelling her grievances through this latest single: “I remember I was in the bar and had just bought myself a new guitar – a 1961 Gibson LG-0 – almost to fill my soul with something. It’s about how gray [sic] and dull London can be when you have no joy in your heart, and the ever-fleeting glow of late nights and early mornings.” With ‘London Is Trouble’ being the third single to be lifted from last year’s album ‘Skinhorse Playground’, any joy that is left to be found can certainly be had via ‘London Is Trouble’ and the impressive manner in which this intimate tale is told to anyone willing to listen. Top marks all round.

Released Out now


When A Kiss Becomes A Habit (Single)

Thea & The Wild

Propeller Recordings

Channelling an 80s vibe with latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ is Norwegian Thea & The Wild. With the single serving as a precursor to the soon-to-be-released LP ‘Ikaros’, Thea & The Wild builds a song that is filled with deep layers including use of strings, electronics and driving percussion and lyrics purporting to the problems experienced by long-term relationships. When reflecting upon latest single ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, Thea & The Wild (aka Glenton Raknes) had this to say: “‘’When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’ was written at the beginning of a relationship – I was too caught up in my own head to be present, and instead was just worrying that it might all go away. It’s about that point when a relationship just flows and there’s no romance or excitement anymore.” There’s certainly enough excitement to contend with when it comes to the detailed layers of experimental pop that is ‘When A Kiss Becomes A Habit’, and one that bodes well for the imminent release of second album ‘Ikaros’ on Propeller Recordings.

Released Out now


The Long Harvest

Creek Road Eleven


Without realising it at the time, this project had been a long time coming for lead singer and guitarist Toni Ruuska. What started in 2013 has since evolved into the five-piece band Creek Road Eleven and their debut album ‘The Long Harvest’. Despite the lengthy timeframe used in order to arrive at the stage where the band now find themselves, much attention to detail and a full and comprehensive search was conducted in order to recruit the right individuals to bring home, or more to the point create a genuine southern American country sound. Such attention to the finer details has certainly paid off as Creek Road Eleven deliver a ten-track album packed with rollin’ country rock tunes, and often with a blues edge that justifies their own description of “Southern-spiced country rock” yet makes it all the more remarkable considering their northern location! Closer inspection of ‘The Long Harvest’ reveals an album that is providing a sense of storytelling that affects the majority of us from every day tales concerning the boredom of work and those Monday mornings (‘Bad Monday’), to misfortunes in love and relationships as well. The latter aspect concerning relationships arrives during several numbers, but not without a touch of humour via the lyrics, and found during such loose workouts as the excellent ‘Under The Full Moon’ and equally good, yet jaunty in rhythm ‘Don’t Call Back’. But if it’s escape you’re looking for regarding the mundanities of life, then the “pick me up” greeting of bluesy country rock, ‘Long Straight Highway’ with its talk of long open highways and musically providing a real sense of any such freedoms, then Creek Road Eleven and their album ‘The Long Harvest’ are likely to be the perfect companions for any such journey right now.

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