It’s time for round number two of my monthly highlights post, featuring another eclectic line up of acts that have been impressing my ears for the past four weeks. Read on for ten of the best this month just gone!
- ZX+ – The Crazies
ZX+ is centred around Stephen Evans, who has previously worked in bands including Twisted Wheel, The Planets and I Win I Drive. ZX+’s excellent new album “Don’t Drink The Water” was released on August 20th on Play & Record Records. Also featured in the band are Mark Coupe on drums and Mary Joanna Coogan on backing vocals. You can hear countless Influences amongst their sound including The Jam, Blur, Radiohead and Pulp, amongst many others. There’s a wonderful mix of different styles going on on this record, with straight up catchy indie sing-a-long moments contrasting with more eccentric left field material, often within the same songs.
2. The Mynabirds – Wildfire
Laura Burnhenn aka The Mynabirds returned last month with her third LP “Lovers Know”, an engaging and intelligent follow up to her peerless 2012 album “Generals”. Whereas Generals grabbed you by the ear from the off with it’s fierce percussion and chant-like choruses, here Burnhenn takes a softer, more reflective approach, resulting in some of her best work to date. One of the album highlights, “Wildfire”, is a perfect pop song, with layer upon layer of music all centred around some beautifully soulful vocals. A real treat.
3. Young War – Who Loves You
Manchester based Soul-Rock duo Young War recently released a new EP “Tell Someone Who Cares” and it’s a stunner. There’s not a single scrap of music that’s gone to waste on these four tracks, they’re immaculately produced, consistently fresh and engaging, with knockout vocals from Thom Stone. They’re one of my favourite local acts so far this year, catch them live supporting Ciaran Lavery at The Castle Hotel in Manchester on 25th October.
4. Silverbird – Lyfe
Founded by songwriter Tim Barr, former member of Lana Del Rey’s band, New York based Silverbird are gearing up to release their new album “Pureland” on September 18th. They mix emotionally heartfelt lyrics alongside some of the best melodies I’ve heard all year, Lyfe being a real highlight, an instantaneously catchy riff starting off the track before seamlessly shifting into a proggy breakdown around the middle. The rest of the album more than matches this standard.
5. The Maccabees – River Song
Indie heavyweights The Maccabees made their grand return with their fourth album “Marks To Prove It”, easily their finest effort to date. I’ve always held my fondness for The Maccabees at a bit of a distance, never being fully won over by them…until this album that is. A stunning collection of songs, mixing in a wide range of sounds and influences, this one is easily a strong early contender for this years Mercury Award. River Song, Spit It Out and Something Like Happiness are just a few of the many high points.
6. Cave Mouth – Deep Water
Cave Mouth have one of the best, freshest sounds I’ve heard from a band all year…and all based off the back of one single, the brilliantly scuzzy “Deep Water”, released this month.. They mix together sounds including blues, funk, hip hop and African influenced tunes, and count inspirations as Queens Of The Stone Age, Leadbelly, Jack White and Busta Rhymes amongst many others. They’ve a number of other tracks up now on Soundcloud, I can’t recommend them enough.
7. Holly Miranda – All I Want Is To Be Your Girl
Although having been around for a few years now, it’s only this past month I’ve been properly introduced to Holly Miranda’s music. I’m eagerly making up for lost time with her latest brilliant self titled LP, which was released back in May. Originally a member of the band Jealous Girlfriends, she has been performing since the age of sixteen, and has created some really great work alongside Yeah Yeah Yeahs producer and TV On The Radio band member David Sitek. Her Facebook page describes her sound as “Psychedelic Fairytale Soul”, a statement I couldn’t agree more with.
8. The Oh Hellos – Bitter Water
The Oh Hellos caught me like a fish on a hook several years ago now, with the release of their stunning debut LP “Through The Deep Dark Valley”. The brother-sister duo from Texas have recently resurfaced with a beautiful new song, “Bitter Water”, taken from their forthcoming album “Dear Wormwood”. Their intricate harmonies wrap seamlessly around banjo strings, the production sounding a little more “beefed up” than usual this time around. If this is the standard of what’s to come, Dear Wormwood looks certain for inclusion in my top albums of 2015.
9. Paul Smith and the Intimations – Break Me Down
Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith steps out on his own again for his second solo outing “Contradiction”, this time ably backed by “The Intimations”…who sound the spitting image of Maximo Park! Not to fret, for this album is just as lyrically dexterous and catchy as you would expect. Lead track “Break Me Down”, as a case in point, perfectly captures the Morrisey-esque melancholy vibe for which Smith is renowned, and builds to a blistering chorus. Paul Smith & The Intimations head out on tour across the UK and Europe this September.
10. Puppet Rebellion – Life Is In your Hands
Manchester’s Puppet Rebellion have been building up a strong fan base in recent months, and it’s only set to grow larger with this, their latest release “Life Is In Your Hands”. They manage a very neat trick of sounding enough like their influences, including Interpol, Bloc Party and New Order, yet also offering something new alongside it, an interesting twist on what’s already familiar. They also perform their material with genuine passion, which makes a refreshing change to the detached, laid back vibe of the likes of The xx and their ilk. The bands EP of the same name is also out now, it’s well worth a listen. Catch them live on the Chameleon Stage at the Ramsbottom Festival on Sunday 20th September.
For a weekly round up of some of the best new music around, listen to my weekly show on Salford City Radio, Mondays 8-9pm. Tune in to 94.4FM in the Salford area, via the website
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